Britain 'will be unable to leave customs union before 2023' amid fears delay will be used to thwart Brexit

Senior civil servants have said highly complex new technology needed to operate the UK's borders after Brexit might not be ready for another five years.

Theresa May has now asked officials to carry out further work on the two options being considered by the Government to replace the customs union, Telegraph reports.

But the delays mean the country would have to stay in a form of customs union for four years after leaving the bloc in March 2019.

Leavers now fear Remainers could use the delay to try to keep Britain in the customs union and possibly even the Single Market.

One Brexiteer told the newspaper: "There are genuine concerns that this delay will lead to the UK staying in the customs union permanently.

“Regardless of that, if we are still in the customs union by the time of the next general election in 2022 it will cause a catastrophe at the polls because we will not have delivered Brexit and voters will not have seen any benefits of leaving the EU.”

It comes after David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, told MPs yesterday he was “100 per cent” Britain will have left the customs union by the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020.

Last week, it emerged Brexiteers were furious over fears Ms May could be forced to keep Britain in the EU's Customs Union after we leave.

Boris Johnson and Liam Fox could even quit if we're tied to the bloc – as we would be unable to do trade deals with countries around the world.

Tory MPs have described the plans as a "betrayal" and that it could derail Brexit altogether.

Suggestions that Britain could stay in the Customs Union after Brexit part of the ongoing deadlock in negotiations over the Irish border.

The PM has said there should be no so-called "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic after we leave.

But leaving Northern Ireland in the Customs Union would mean cutting them off from the rest of the UK – which will enrage Mrs May's partners the DUP.

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