An EU official called it “fantasy”, a Cabinet minister branded it “ambitious” and a Labour MP slammed it as “incoherent”.
As the Government published its proposal for an interim customs union with the European Union after Brexit, reaction on both sides of the Channel has been mixed.
To some, it is yet another case of the Government seeking to “have its cake and eat it”, but others hail it as a welcome step that helps clarify London’s position for businesses across the continent.
Here is a selection of quotes from officials in London, Edinburgh and Brussels.
:: Brexit Secretary David Davis, on the transitional period: “Unlike Big Ben it shouldn’t take forever.”
Video: Davis: We want ‘slick’ EU customs arrangements
:: Chancellor Philip Hammond: “Our proposals are ambitious, and rightly so.
“They set out arrangements that would allow UK businesses to continue to trade with their European partners in the future, while expanding their markets beyond the EU.”
:: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon: “Seems UK gov is back to its daft ‘have cake and eat it’ approach to Brexit. They should commit to staying in single market and CU, period.”
:: Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer: “These are incoherent and inadequate proposals designed to gloss over deep and continuing divisions within the Cabinet.”
:: Ian King analysis – Post-Brexit trade plans would be far from straightforward
… but also wants to replace it with “time-limited customs union between the UK and the EU Customs Union”. Why not just stay in?
— Hilary Benn (@hilarybennmp) August 15, 2017
:: Hilary Benn, Brexit Select Committee chairman: “If ministers think staying in the customs union is right for the next two or three years, then why not do so for the long term? That would be the best way to offer much-needed certainty for businesses, jobs and UK trade.”
:: Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit co-ordinator: “To be in and out of the customs union and ‘invisible borders’ is a fantasy. First need to secure citizens’ rights and a financial settlement.”
:: EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier: “The quicker #UK & EU27 agree on citizens, settling accounts and #Ireland, the quicker we can discuss customs & future relationship.”
:: Nigel Farage, former UKIP leader: “This is dither and delay. It shows a lack of decisive leadership and it lowers our standing in the world… This is not what we voted for – we voted to leave, not for transitional arrangements.”
Video: Farage: We did not vote for transitional arrangements
:: Tory former minister Anna Soubry, a staunch Remainer who co-chairs the all-party parliamentary group on EU relations: “Ministers appear to be moving in the right direction, but they need to go further.
“They should acknowledge that no new agreement with the EU can fully replace the benefits of customs union membership, as the EU and business has made clear.
Image: Chuka Umunna says ‘realism is thin on the ground in this position paper’
:: Pro-EU Labour MP Chuka Umunna said: “They might promise frictionless trade, but they are offering a red tape bombshell for British business.”
:: Eurosceptic Tory MP Nigel Evans said: “The ability to be able to negotiate our own trade deals during that transitional deal is vitally important, so full negotiations can take place rather than the scoping-out going on at the moment.”
:: George Osborne, the former chancellor-turned-newspaper editor, and frequent Government critic, tweeted an Evening Standard cartoon of David Davis eating a customs union cake, and said the cartoon “captures the government’s latest position on Brexit”.
:: John McGrane, director of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce: “The recognition of the need for an interim period to allow for the adoption of new systems and infrastructures will be welcomed by businesses…”
“It is important that this phase is as close to the status quo as possible with minimum disruption caused by tariff and non-tariff barriers.”