Britain sticks to plans on EU customs union, government 'as one'

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a news conference to mark the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Marlborough House in London, Britain, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday her government was sticking to its proposals to ease trade with the European Union after Brexit, rejecting suggestions that plans to quit its customs union were again dividing her party.

A government defeat in Britain’s upper house of parliament last week has again raised questions over May’s commitment to leaving the customs union, a plan that has split not only her own party but also across the parliamentary divide.

The government has proposed two ways of ensuring that trade is “as frictionless as possible” with the EU once Britain ends a status quo transition phase after it leaves in March next year. The EU again rejected one of those last week.

“We’ve put forward proposals that will deliver a frictionless border and enable us to do trade deals around the rest of the world,” May told reporters. “I think that will be the best position for the United Kingdom and that’s what we’re working for.”

Earlier, her spokesman said the government had set out the options -- a customs partnership or a streamlined customs arrangement -- almost a year ago, and that it has “been moving forwards as one with the process of leaving the European Union”.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Michael Holden