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Brexit: May Sets up Cabinet Teams to Thrash out Rival Customs Plans

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Local Editor

British Prime Minister Theresa May divided her cabinet into two groups to fight out their differences over Britain's post-Brexit customs arrangements, intensifying speculation that she is preparing to delay her decision on the issue.

Theresa May

In further details, May formed the working groups, which would report back on her preferred customs partnership model and the maximum-facilitation option at next Tuesday's meeting of her inner Brexit cabinet.

Meanwhile, her senior ministers are split over how Britain should manage its customs arrangements with the European Union after it leaves the bloc, with the issue threatening to divide the cabinet and the Tory party itself.

One group will focus on the customs partnership plan, under which the UK would collect tariffs on behalf of the EU - until now Downing Street's favorite option, but dismissed this week by the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, as "crazy" and unworkable.

The Brexiters' preferred "max-fac" proposal, which relies on technology to minimize border checks, will be studied by remainers Greg Clark, the business secretary, and Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary, along with the Brexit secretary, David Davis, a key leave supporter.

Downing Street insiders suggested that each group of ministers had been picked for their relevant departmental responsibilities, rather than to give each proposal a "going over" by opponents.

The ministers only have until Tuesday to examine their options, with civil servants' support, leaving them little time to focus on detail. This has increased the likelihood that each team will conclude both options need yet more work.

The further delays on Brexit legislation reinforces the belief that ministers hope to avoid any Commons defeats by putting off any big decisions by MPs until the government has finalized its strategy for exiting the EU.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team