Iain Duncan Smith has poured scorn on Theresa May's two proposals to form a partnership with the EU customs union.
“All the remain groups said if you vote to leave, you have to leave the single market and the customs union,” he said.
“There’s been a lot of nonsense in the House of Lords and others. Why is this still being debated?”
Reports a fortnight ago said that Brussels emphatically rejected all of the UK’s proposals to strike a deal with the Customs Union.
The government denied the claims at the time, but Brexit Secretary David Davis admitted to the Guardian yesterday that both of the UK’s proposals were “pushed back”.
The EU was reportedly concerned about how the proposals would work in practice, and Duncan Smith seemed to share these concerns.
“This is a nonsense,” he said. “One of the great prizes of leaving the European Union is that we will have left the customs union which means we will be able to strike trade deals.
The trouble is this customs partnership idea, which seems to have been cobbled together in Whitehall, will limit our ability to do that.”
He added that trying to strike a partnership could complicate other elements of Brexit.
“People in government have got too confused and concerned about issues that will settle themselves if we know what that trade relationship is.
“Instead of discussing border issues, we should discuss what kind of free trade deal we’ll have with the European Union and the rest will fall into place.”
The BBC reported yesterday that even Remainers were growing sceptic about how a partnership would work, and Duncan Smith echoed this.
“I am absolutely certain that the customs partnership will be so complicated and so impossible to implement that people will say, ‘ooh, maybe we should just stay in the customs union’,” he said.
“If we stay in, we’ll have to be rule takers from Brussels, we’ll have no say in that, and they’ll stop us doing these trade arrangements.
“All of those who’ve never reconciled themselves that the vote was to leave are determined to use the customs union to try and stop us leaving. That’s what it amounts to.”
Watch his full conversation with Julia Hartley-Brewer above.