Criticism, praise poured on Britain's 1st position paper on Brexit

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-15 22:56:11|Editor: yan
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LONDON, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Opposition politicians in Britain on Tuesday criticised government proposals for an interim trading deal with the European Union (EU), but business leaders welcomed the proposals, saying that if accepted by Brussels, it would avoid a "cliff edge" in March 2019 when Britain leaves the EU.

Brexit Secretary David Davis wants a tariff-free interim customs arrangement to start when Britain ends its EU membership.

It would mean current exporting and importing arrangements would continue virtually unchanged to enable a permanent deal to eventually be agreed by both sides.

The new paper was released as the first in a series of documents to be published in order to outline Britain's position on major issues of Brexit.

Labour's Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, described Davis's proposals as "incoherent and inadequate," saying they were designed to gloss over deep and continuing divisions within British Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet.

"Businesses, trade unions and the country need certainty about our future trading and customs arrangements," Starmer said. "Instead, the cabinet remain split on key issues and cannot decide between two very different but equally unachievable options."

The first proposal which suggests "a new customs border with the EU" could be introduced without disrupting trade; the second suggests a new borderless customs partnership could somehow be agreed while Britain also signs external trade deals.

"These fantastical and contradictory proposals provide no guidance for negotiators or certainty for businesses," he said. "The proposals also make it less likely that necessary transitional arrangements will be in place by March 2019."

For his part, Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of the Scottish Parliament and leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, said, "It seems the UK government is back to its daft 'have your cake and eat it' approach to Brexit.

Sturgeon added that the British government should commit to staying in the EU single market and the customs union.

One of the strongest attacks came from Nigel Farage, founder and former leader of UKIP, the party set up to campaign for Britain to leave the EU.

Farage, who sits as a British member in the European Parliament said: "We might find ourselves 10 years down the road from Brexit having not got what we wanted."

"There's no doubt that during this transitional period, the free movement of people will continue, the European Court of Justice will go on having judgements over British business and, of course, we'll go on paying a membership fee," Farage said. "None of those things are acceptable to Brexit voters in any way at all."

Tom Blake, Brexit spokesman for the minority Liberal Democrat party. said the government's customs union proposal would delay the economic pain caused by leaving the customs union.

Blake said: "We still face the prospect of more red tape for businesses, longer queues at our borders and higher prices for consumers once the transition comes to an end."

Business leaders in Britain, however, broadly welcomed the official proposals, saying it will avoid a feared "cliff edge" if no post-2019 export and import arrangements are in place.

Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: "Companies will welcome the progress the government has made today in publishing these papers."

"It's encouraging to see that these papers propose a time-limited interim period and a customs system that is as barrier-free as possible," he said.

Hardie said business wants to see as frictionless a customs system as possible, with a strong emphasis on digital systems that make it easier to trade.

New round of talks between the British government and EU negotiators are due to resume at the end of this month.