The UK government has confirmed that Britain will definitely be leaving the EU customs union after a week of conflict within the Conservative party.
The news comes as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is due to meet prime minister Theresa May in London today.
Many Remainers within the party, along with Labour and the Liberal Democrats, want to stay in the customs union to minimise trade disruption with the EU.
However such a move would prevent the UK making free trade deals with countries outside the UK – a key factor, Brexiteers argue, in making a prosperous post-Brexit Britain.
The latest round of infighting over Brexit came to a head last month when Chancellor Philip Hammond told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos the UK and EU economies would move “hopefully, very modestly apart”.
Now Downing Street has released a statement insisting the UK will leave the customs union.
An aide to the chancellor, Conservative MP Kwasi Kwarteng, told the BBC Today programme the latest statement on the customs union was “perfectly consistent” with Downing Street’s stated position.
He said of Mr Hammond’s comments that “being modestly apart does not mean you have to be in a customs union”.