Theresa May was accused of presiding over a “total shambles” in Brexit preparations as Labour and the SNP went on the offensive following conflicting messages over the UK’s future trading relationship with Europe.
Jeremy Corbyn attacked the government for having “no plan” for withdrawal talks with Brussels amid conflicting messages from ministers after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested leaving the EU would also mean quitting the European customs union.
Mr Johnson told a Czech newspaper on Tuesday that the UK would “probably” have to leave the customs union, which allows members to trade goods free of customs levies, in order to strike its own free trade deals.
Downing Street insists no decision on the customs union has been taken, and Mrs May said membership was “not binary”.
But Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Mr Johnson’s claim that the UK could maintain easy access to European markets while withdrawing from the customs union was “intellectually impossible” and “politically unavailable”.
Questioning the Prime Minister in the Commons, Mr Corbyn said: “We have a Brexit team with no plan for Brexit and a Prime Minister who is not prepared to answer questions on what the actual Brexit strategy is.”
She replied: “What we want to ensure is that we have the best possible trading deal with the European Union once we have left.”
Mrs May rounded on the Labour leader, adding: “They posture, we deliver. We’re getting on with the job, he’s not up to the job.”
SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson also took up the attack on the customs union, and said afterwards: “Barely a day goes by without more evidence that Theresa May and her government do not have a clue.”
Meanwhile, EU Commission sources have suggested it could demand Brexit “divorce” payments of up to £60 billion to cover outstanding pensions and budget liabilities.