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Britain's Hammond to push for UK to stay in EU customs union: The Times

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, leaves Downing Street in central London, Britain June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) - Finance minister Philip Hammond will argue for Britain to stay in the customs union, in a bid to soften Brexit and alter Prime Minister’s Theresa May approach, the Times reported on Tuesday citing several unnamed sources.

Hammond will attempt to change May’s mind after a disastrous election in which the government lost its majority last Thursday, the Times said. The newspaper reported he believes government must rethink its plan to pursue an independent trade policy outside the customs union.

The EU customs union guarantees tariff-free trade within the bloc but prohibits members from striking third-party trade deals. Earlier on Tuesday, senior British minister Michael Gove had said that the Britain would leave the customs union, in line with government policy prior to the election.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by William James