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Coffee House

PMQs: Emily Thornberry’s battle over the customs union

7 December 2016

1:29 PM

7 December 2016

1:29 PM

With Theresa May away, it was David Lidington v Emily Thornberry at PMQs today. The shadow foreign secretary asked Lidington if the UK would stay in the customs union, Lidington danced round the question. But Thornberry, unlike Corbyn, kept coming back to the same question. By the end of the exchanges, it was clear that Lidington wasn’t going to answer the question.

Thornberry had also armed herself with a string of pro-Remain quotes from Lidington from before 23 June, which she deployed quite effectively. But Lidington is an effective, enough, despatch box performer and managed to avoid incurring serious damage. Interestingly Thornberry committed Labour to staying inside the customs union—which would mean that the UK could not do any comprehensive free-trade deals post Brexit. Indeed, if Britain stays inside the customs union, it really won’t be Brexit in the proper sense of the word. 

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