Stephen Farry: Customs vote reinforces fears of catastrophic no deal Brexit

It is frustrating to see that MPs narrowly defeated a vote requiring the UK government to seek a fresh customs union with the EU if Brexit trade talks are unsuccessful.

Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 10:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 10:23 am
MPs in the House of Commons read out the results of the vote where MPs defeated a Tory backbench Trade Bill amendment linked to the customs union by 307 votes to 301, majority six. Photo: PA Wire

The DUP’s position was illogical, given the party’s stated objective of avoiding new borders in these islands.

Once again the House of Commons has passed up a key opportunity to steer the UK towards a much softer Brexit, with less damage on the economy and wider society.

Many people, including the government, are stating their support for avoiding any new borders anywhere in these islands.

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The UK entering into a fresh customs union is one essential component of making that a reality.

The decision to rule out the pursuit of a customs union even as a Plan B alternative further reinforces fears a catastrophic no-deal outcome is increasingly likely.

The most immediate requirement is agreement on the legal text around the backstop for Northern Ireland.

Without a customs union, the claim the need for the backstop can be avoided becomes increasingly challenging.

The approach of the DUP in supporting the government in voting down a customs union is particularly illogical.

Some commentators, and even the DUP themselves, have indicated their own real red line is avoiding a customs interface down the Irish Sea.

The UK as a whole being in a customs union with the EU is a necessary requirement to achieve this.

Once again the DUP are acting against the fundamental economic and political interests of Northern Ireland.

Stephen Farry MLA, Alliance Brexit spokesperson