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UK PM May promises ‘frictionless trade’, EU publishes no deal contingency plan

The UK’s prime minister Theresa May has said that her Brexit deal will ensure “frictionless trade across borders and a free trade area with the European Union” in comments to Parliament.

The statements at Prime Minister’s Questions came as May’s cabinet prepared to meet this afternoon to discuss the draft agreement that she has obtained with Brussels.

“I am confident that it takes us significantly closer to delivering on what the British people voted for in the referendum,” said May.

“We will take back control of our borders, our laws and our money and leave the common fisheries policy and the common agricultural policy while protecting jobs, security and the integrity of our United Kingdom.”

However, leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn said that the government had “spent two years negotiating a bad deal that will leave the country in an indefinite halfway house without a real say”.

Further details of the draft deal are expected to emerge after the cabinet discussion.

The debate comes the day after the European Commission published a communication outlining contingency measures that could be implemented if no agreement is reached with the UK before March.

The document stated that goods entering the EU from the UK would be treated as imports and those going to the UK would be treated as exports after exit. Accordingly it called on member states to be prepared to apply the EU’s customs code as of 30 March 2019.

It said that “the UK’s withdrawal will undoubtedly cause disruption – for example in business supply chains – whether or not there is a deal” and added that “contingency measures cannot remedy the full effects of this disruption”.

However, the document identified priority areas where contingency measures might be necessary, which included customs and air transport.

“Any contingency measures would only be taken in limited areas where they are necessary to protect the vital interests of the EU and where preparedness measures are not currently possible. They would be temporary in nature, limited in scope, adopted unilaterally by the EU and must remain compatible with EU law.”

Image credit: UK Parliament

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