The British government has reiterated its stance that the UK will no longer be a member of the EU customs union post-Brexit, despite growing political pressure to consider the option of remaining.
A Downing Street source has confirmed to multiple new outlets that prime minister Theresa May will not be changing her view that the UK will not retain membership of the existing EU customs union, nor will it be looking to establish a new customs union with the EU once the Brexit process is completed.
This statement has emerged after a week in which the government faced renewed calls to reconsider its position, following a defeat over the issue in the House of Lords on April 18th. Peers voted in favor of an amendment to Brexit legislation that would see the UK remain in the current customs union, with the aim of achieving regulatory alignment between the UK and EU, while avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
It means that MPs will have a chance to vote on the issue in an upcoming parliamentary debate, although the result of this vote will be non-binding. Nevertheless, it underlines the fact that this issue remains one over which Mrs May's government faces considerable opposition, both from outside and within her own party.
Hardline Brexit supporters within the government continue to assert that leaving the customs union is essential to achieve the goal of Britain regaining control of its own trade policies after exiting the EU. Ministers have also argued that continued customs union membership would lead to a situation in which the UK is beholden to rules that it has no say in determining.
It is expected that a meaningful vote on remaining in the customs union will be carried out at some point in the next few months.