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A British flag (left) and EU flag (right) hang outside Europe House, the European Parliament's British offices, in London (Matt Dunham / AP)

The UK signaled in government policy papers published Tuesday that it wishes to continue its close customs union with the European Union during the estimated three-year transition period following Britain's planned exit in March 2019, per the Financial Times. The EU response:

  • Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament's lead coordinator on Brexit, tweeted: "To be in & out of the Customs Union & 'invisible borders' is a fantasy. First need to secure citizens rights & a financial settlement."
  • A spokesman for the European commission: "We take note of the UK's request... but we will only address them once we have made sufficient progress on the terms of the orderly withdrawal... We see the UK's publication of a series of position papers as a positive step towards now really starting phase one of the negotiations."
  • Michel Barnier, the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, on Twitter: "The quicker #UK & EU27 agree on citizens, settling accounts and #Ireland, the quicker we can discuss customs & future relationship."

The bottom line: The UK wants the best of of both worlds: to keep its EU customs privileges post-Brexit while also gaining the freedom to individually negotiate other trade deals.

The government paper calls for "a new customs arrangement that facilitates the freest and most frictionless trade possible in goods between the UK and the EU" and further outlines two proposals to achieve that, both which fall largely in line with their current customs relationship: "[A] new customs partnership... which would negate the need for a customs border between the UK and the EU", or a new "highly streamlined customs arrangement".The papers also demonstrate Britain's desire to move forward with trade talks with other countries, but recognize that any new arrangement would need to respect the EU's transition terms.

Go deeper

Biden to sign 15 executive actions on Day One

President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to sign 15 executive actions upon taking office Wednesday, immediately reversing key Trump administration policies.

Why it matters: The 15 actions — aimed at issues like climate change and immigration — mark more drastic immediate steps compared with the two day-one actions from Biden's four predecessors combined, according to incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.