Cross-party parliamentary group demands Parliament has its say on Government Customs Union proposals

Today, the Government has released its position paper on post-Brexit customs arrangements between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, Co-Chair of the APPG on EU Relations, said:

“As the Brexit negotiations go forward, it is crucial that Ministers take positions based on realism rather than wishful thinking. Unfortunately, such realism is thin on the ground in this position paper.

"They might promise frictionless trade, but they are offering a red tape bombshell for British business.

“Ministers effectively concede that Britain will need to stay in the Customs Union for transition. But it is a fantasy to believe that we can essentially stay in the Customs Union for a transitional period and yet negotiate trade deals with countries around the world at the same time.

“More worryingly, such a transition only moves the cliff edge for business from 2019 to 2021. If we leave the Customs Union, British firms will still face damaging disruption to their imports, exports and supply chains.

“To truly ensure frictionless trade between Britain and the European Union, the Government should negotiate to keep Britain in the Customs Union after Brexit.  Of course, Parliament must have its say on all of this.”

Commenting further, Anna Soubry MP, Co-Chair of the APPG on EU Relations, added:

“It’s welcome that the Government appear to acknowledge the importance of the benefits of the Customs Union to our economy. A transitional arrangement may involve technically leaving the Customs Union, but in reality it will be the status quo, which is good news for British businesses and at least gives them more time to prepare for life outside the European Union.

“Ministers appear to be moving in the right direction. But they need to go further. They should acknowledge that no new agreement with the EU can fully replace the benefits of Customs Union membership, as the EU and business has made clear.

“With regard to our post-transition EU customs arrangements, it is vital Parliament has its say on which of the options in the position paper the Government chooses to adopt. Businesses of whatever size should use the next few months to lobby their local MP and their trade organisations. MPs must have a say on the final arrangements as laid out in the paper and other alternatives.”




For all bids and media enquiries, contact Will Cousins on 07801 231485. When reporting this press release, please reference the APPG on EU Relations.

Notes to editors:

The APPG on EU Relations was established at the start of the newly elected Parliament in July 2017. Its members work together to campaign in and out of Parliament with the following objectives:

  1. To ensure the UK does not exit the European Union without an agreement on the terms of its withdrawal and future relations with the EU;
  2. To ensure that, in the negotiation with the UK's EU partners, all options are kept on the table; and,
  3. To secure the closest possible working with relationship with the EU and its 27 member states. 

The co-chairs of the APPG are Chuka Umunna MP and Anna Soubry MP and the vice-chairs are Caroline Lucas MP, Jo Swinson MP, Stephen Gethins MP and Jonathan Edwards MP.

The Secretariat for the APPG on EU Relations is provided by four pro-European groups: Open Britain, Best for Britain, European Movement, and Vote Leave Watch. 

For information about the APPG, please visit our website:

The Government’s position paper on customs is here: