This is an exciting week for anyone interested in Brexit!
No, wait. Don't go. It really is.
It's the week when Brexiteers like foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Remainers like home secretary Amber Rudd have to try to square their differences over how the UK will trade with the European Union after Brexit.
There are two big meetings of the Brexit ~war cabinet~ on Wednesday and Thursday. This is otherwise known as the European Union Exit and Trade (Strategy and Negotiations) Sub-committee – but for journalistic purposes, it is a war cabinet.
Who's in this Brexit war cabinet then?
It's the big beasts of the cabinet, gathered together to thrash out the finer points of the UK leaving the EU. In the Brexiteer corner, we have Johnson, Brexit secretary David Davis, international trade secretary Liam Fox, and environment secretary Michael Gove.
And over in the Remainer corner, we have Rudd, chancellor Philip Hammond, business secretary Greg Clark, cabinet office minister David Lidington, and defence secretary Gavin Williamson. Prime minister Theresa May will be referee.
Top of the agenda is figuring out what to do with the EU customs union.
But what on earth IS the customs union?
The EU customs union basically allows member states to club together and agree to impose the same tariffs (taxes on imports) on goods from non-EU countries.
The point is to make it easier to trade with each other, by removing barriers like customs checks. So once goods have cleared customs in one country, they can be moved to others without further tariffs being slapped on.
Johnson is among the pro-Brexit Tories who believe that the UK's vote to leave the EU was ~definitely~ a vote to leave the customs union.
He reckons that if the UK stays in the customs union, it won't be able to strike trade deals with other countries around the world.
But one sceptical colleague, former Tory minister Anna Soubry, has described these as "unicorn trade deals" – and accused the government of being bullied by "hard Brexit" Tory MPs.
Hope you enjoyed that beautiful GIF of a unicorn, because things are about to get ugly and ~complicated~.
Back in September, when the PM flew to the beautiful Italian city of Florence only to stand in front of a blank screen while giving her speech, she said clearly: "The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. We will no longer be members of its single market or customs union."
But, erm, if the customs union is going, we are none the wiser as to what will replace it.
In a customs union you have a common external tariff, meaning products entering the union have the same tariff applied to them, and standards that are recognised across the union, so once you have items checked in, they can move freely.
So what's the government proposing instead?
Ask Number 10 and they will point you towards this – a government paper published in August that sets out TWO possible options.
Number one: a "highly streamlined customs arrangement".
Here's an image of David Davis showing us what this would look like through the medium of contemporary dance.
This is the less risky option. It would aim to "continue some of the existing arrangements between the UK and the EU" and use "technology-based solutions" to cut customs delays.
Or number two: a "new customs partnership with the EU".
This would effectively remove the need for a UK-EU customs border, because the EU and the UK would apply the same rules and tariffs on goods.
However, as a third country, Britain would be free to set its own arrangements for goods that remain in Britain as well as tariffs for UK exports outside the EU. Even the government's own paper says this is "unprecedented" and "could be challenging to implement".
What if we just...stay in the original customs union?
Well, we can't. After a bit of confusion over the weekend, Number 10 doubled down on Monday – insisting that, yes, Britain is definitely leaving the customs union.
"The key point, as the prime minister has said on many many occasions, is that we need to have our own independent trade policy and be able to strike trade deals with the rest of the world," the PM's spokesman said.
In summary, we're definitely asking the EU to let us have our cake and eat it, which is fine until the EU is all:
And don't forget, the EU wants the UK to aim for a full Brexit by the end of 2020 (after a two-year "implementation period" starting next year). That's really not very long to hash this out.
PLUS there's another worry: the impact on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Labour MP Hilary Benn, chair of the Brexit select committee, has warned: "If you leave the customs union, there are going to have to be some checks ... This matters enormously because this year is the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
"It has brought peace and stability and normality to Northern Ireland – so maintaining that open border is not just about trade, it's also about the peace process."
While others, such as Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, just think the government is hell-bent on destroying the UK.
But pro-Remain ministers appear to be relaxed about the government's stance.. That's because they don't really believe Britain is leaving the customs union any time soon, according to the Financial Times. And Labour is soon expected to put down a Commons amendment to keep Britain in "a customs union" – which is likely to get a lot of support from pro-Remain Tories.
Look, it's all perfectly simple really.
Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alberto Nardelli is Europe editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alberto Nardelli at email@example.com.
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