Andrew Marr lashed out at Cabinet Minister David Lidington’s Brexit claims, referring to them as a “complete fantasy”. The BBC presenter argued it is “not possible” for the UK to “enjoy the benefits” of a customs union and at the same time pursue independent trade deals. Mr Lidington began: “We are absolutely clear about the objective which is no tariffs, no quotas, no rules of origin checks. But we still believe that it is still possible to get an agreement on customs with the European Union that will allow us, when we get to this future partnership, to have in addition to those benefits of a conventional customs union, a freedom to do that independent trade policy with the rest of the world.”
Mr Marr retorted: “Can I put it to you, that is a complete fantasy. We have spent two years plus trying to test if that is possible, it’s not possible.
“We cannot have all the benefits of a customs union while at the same time pursuing our independent trade deals.
“That we know and yet it is still at the heart of these conversations. It’s a fantasy.”
The Duchy of Lancaster Chancellor replied: “Andrew with all respect to you, we have not been testing that for the past two years, for the past two years what we have been talking about is the terms of our actual withdrawal from the European Union.
“It’s only when we actually come a third country and cease to be an EU member that we can get on legally, in terms of what the EU treaties allow, with those trade negotiations and security negotiations for the future relationship.
“That’s what I want to get us on to do, that’s why Parliament needs to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement.
“Then we can get on to those talks on trade and other matters that are so important to people in this country.”
Theresa May has agreed to two Brexit extensions, with the most recent taking the UK’s planned departure date to October 31.
Mrs May hopes to use the time to persuade MPs to back her EU exit deal, or an alternative agreement drawn up with the opposition Labour Party.
The UK will likely participate in the European Parliament elections, if a Brexit deal is not passed by May 22 after it was forced to accept an extended Brexit deadline from Brussels until October 31.
The European Parliament elections in 2014 saw Ukip come out on top in a tight contest with 27.49 percent of the vote and 24 MEPs, followed by the Labour Party (25.4 percent and 20 MEPs) and Conservative Party (23.93 percent and 19 MEPs).
However, a new Open Europe poll conducted by Hanbury Strategy of 2,000 people from April 5-8 has revealed Labour could could dominate the European elections and build a huge lead over their rivals.
Asked about which party they are intending to vote for, Labour led the way with 37.8 percent – up by around 50 percent from four years ago. The Conservative Party are a distant second with 23 percent of the vote, followed by Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party (10.3 percent), Liberal Democrats (8.1 percent) and Ukip (7.5 percent).
Nearly half (48.1 percent) of Leave voters said they were either likely or very likely to support the Brexit Party in the upcoming elections, compared to 18 percent of Remain voters.
A third (33.4 percent) of Remain voters also said they were “likely” or “very likely” to back Change UK – formerly know as The Independent Group (TIG) – which they were told is in favour of a second referendum on Britain’s exit from the EU.
In contrast, 22.7 percent of Leave voters suggested they are either “likely” or “very likely” to support that party.