• The UK will face “unavoidable” barriers to trade if it leaves the customs union and single market, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said. Speaking in Downing Street, he said the “time had come” for the UK to choose what it wanted after its 2019 exit. Brexit Secretary David Davis said the UK’s position was “perfectly clear”. The UK, he argued, wanted a free trade deal with the EU but also the freedom to strike deals with other countries, where trade opportunities were growing. (BBC)
  • The government’s decision to postpone the publication of a key document relating to its plans for the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system has been called “hugely frustrating” by British businesses. The immigration white paper, which was originally scheduled to be published last summer, will not be released until after the transition deal is done, it is understood. This could be early summer and means negotiations due in Brussels this week on the rights of new EU migrants to Britain after March 2019 will get under way with little prior public discussion of the options. (The Guardian)
  • Downing Street has ruled out involvement in a customs union with the European Union amid confusion over government policy as Theresa May prepares for a crucial week of talks. After the exposure of divisions between ministers over the UK’s future relationship with the EU, an official source said: “It is not our policy to be in the customs union. It is not our policy to be in a customs union.” The statement went further than May who, on Friday, refused to rule out involvement in a customs union when questioned during her visit to China. (The Guardian)
  • The head of the UK’s financial regulator has called on other European watchdogs to support a Brexit transition period by signing a memorandum of understanding that gives City of London companies time to adjust to Britain’s exit from the EU. Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, said such a regulatory pact would be part of a “co-ordinated solution” that includes a commitment by political leaders to a transition period that gives the financial services sector some breathing space on Brexit. (Financial Times)