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Theresa May: British Cabinet Agrees on New UK-EU Business Model

Britain will propose setting up a free trade zone with the EU after Brexit that the British government will not be able to change without the approval of Parliament, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday.

"Today in detailed discussions the Cabinet has agreed our collective position for the future of our negotiations with the EU," May said in a statement following the cabinet meeting.

"Our proposal will create a UK-EU free trade area which establishes a common rule book for industrial goods and agricultural products. This maintains high standards in these areas, but we will also ensure that no new changes in the future take place without the approval of our Parliament," the statement continued.

The Cabinet ministers held consultations earlier in the day to coordinate London's strategy for negotiations with the EU on Brexit in key areas. Negotiations continued for several hours in semi-confidence, as participants were asked to hand over their mobile phones before the start.

 

According to the statement, the minister also agreed to "a new business-friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world."

Meanwhile, The Times reported Friday without citing sources that May had told senior allies she would sack Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson if he attempted to undermine Brexit agreement reached by her cabinet earlier in the day.

Any iteration of the existing customs union with the EU has been opposed by hardliners like Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. But May assured senior allies she would fire him if he goes against the plan, The Times reported.

A source told the paper that the prime minister had found replacements for a "select number of narcissistic, leadership-dominated cabinet ministers."

In spring, Johnson attacked May’s plans for a new customs partnership with the European Union as "crazy," saying the United Kingdom could end up collecting tariffs on behalf of the European Union after London leaves its customs area in December 2020.

Meanwhile, EU’s negotiator Michel Barnier said Friday he looked forward to UK’s white paper on the future relationship with the union, which he plans to study in view of EU Council rules.

 

"I look forward to White Paper. We will assess proposals to see if they are workable and realistic in view of EU Cuncil guidelines," Barnier tweeted.

He said the next round of negotiations with British authorities on the white paper and UK’s withdrawal agreement was scheduled for July 16.

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. Last March, May officially invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, launching the process of the country's withdrawal from the bloc. Brexit negotiations between London and the EU started last year and are due to be completed by the end of March 2019.

The issue of post-Brexit trade between the United Kingdom and the EU is one of the key points of concern for both sides, since they have so far failed to reach a trade agreement. The issue of the border between UK’s Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is also among the most contentious matters in the EU-UK talks, as possible UK pullout from the EU Customs Union might require the construction of a hard border between UK and Ireland.

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