"We have a Cabinet that is completely and totally divided so there is no plan for what the negotiating position is going to be", pro-EU Conservative lawmaker Anna Soubry said.
Whitehall has proposed two customs solutions: a partnership under which Britain would collect import duties on the EU's behalf, and a proposal known as "max fac" (maximum facilitation) that would rely on new technology to conduct rapid border checks without a physical presence at the historically fraught frontier.
"Logistics businesses simply can not answer their customers' questions about how they will move goods after Brexit", he said. After much toing and froing, the technical document on a "temporary customs arrangement" was published this afternoon (7 June), Catherine Feore looks at what lies within.
He said that foreign secretary Boris Johnson was "almost certainly correct" to suggest, in taped remarks at a private dinner, that hardline Leavers were not now on track to get the Brexit they want. However, it wants a mechanism to be agreed to ensure that the UK's national interest is represented in negotiations up until its formal departure; this may be somewhere where the European Union could make a concession, but in no sense would it be obliged to. "Because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland", he said.
However, Barnier then rejected a recent United Kingdom government proposal for all of the United Kingdom to remain inside the customs union until an arrangement can be made that prevents the EU from imposing a so called hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
But Mr Barnier said the proposal raised a number of relevant and hard issues.
Hookham says that with less than 300 days to the UK's scheduled departure from the European Union, and no progress made on trade talks, the lack of clarity over key issues is eroding the country's invaluable trading relationships with businesses overseas, and foreign businesses based in Britain.
"Details of whether or not the country will have a transition/implementation period are still unclear and there is still no decision on what customs arrangements we will have from March 2019 onwards". Failing that, Ireland wants special status for Northern Ireland so that it could continue to follow European Union rules - but that is exactly what the DUP has rejected.
"These were whether it is a "workable solution" to avoiding a hard border; whether it respects the "integrity" of the EU's single market and customs union"; and whether it is an "all-weather backstop".