Barnier: Post-Brexit trade barriers ‘unavoidable’

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has warned Britain “the time has come to make a choice” on its future relationship with the bloc.

Michel Barnier warned of “unavoidable” barriers to trade in goods and services if the UK leaves the single market and customs union.

His visit to Downing Street on Monday followed a recent bout of infighting within the Conservative Party, over whether or not Britain should retain a customs union with the EU beyond 2019.

Tory Brexiteers have expressed fears remaining in a customs union with the EU after Brexit will hinder the UK’s ability to sign independent trade deals with countries outside the bloc.

But pro-Remain Conservatives have cautioned the “only way” to achieve the Prime Minister’s aim of “frictionless” trade between the UK and the EU is to remain in the customs union.

Speaking alongside Brexit Secretary David Davis, Mr Barnier said: “We need clarity about the UK proposals for the future partnership.

“The only thing I can say, without a customs union and outside the single market, barriers to trade in goods and services are unavoidable.

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“The time has come to make a choice.”

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