LONDON -- The UK will align its regulations with the European Union's in some areas, such as the automotive sector, after it leaves the bloc in 2019, health minister Jeremy Hunt said.
When negotiations with the EU on future trade open next month, Britain will ask to keep the bloc’s regulations "on a voluntary basis" for key industry sectors such as carmaking, Hunt said.
"There will be areas and sectors of industry where we agree to align our regulations with European regulations, the automotive industry is perhaps an obvious example because of supply chains that are integrated, but it will be on a voluntary basis," he told the BBC on Friday.
Hunt was speaking a day after Prime Minister Theresa May met her top aides to resolve differences over the government's EU strategy. Hunt wasn’t present at the Brexit strategy group but was sent onto the radio to brief the world on what happened. He confirmed there were "divergent views" among ministers but said the meeting was a "very positive discussion and we have made good progress."
Hunt said there was no possibility of the government changing its position on leaving the customs union after Brexit. "What we won't be doing is accepting changes in rules because the EU unilaterally chooses to make those changes," he said.
On Thursday May won the backing of her divided cabinet to ask for an ambitious trade deal with the EU after a marathon eight-hour meeting at her country house. The real test, however, will come when her team put their demands to the EU.
'Three baskets' approach
The UK plan to keep EU rules in areas such as carmaking and data sharing while breaking away partially or fully in others is known as the "three baskets," as each sector gets one of the three treatments.
The European Commission has already said it will not accept the approach. In a slideshow presentation it rejected the UK's emerging strategy. "UK views on regulatory issues in the future relationship including 'three basket approach' are not compatible with the principles in the European Council guidelines," one of the slides reads. If the UK aspires to cherry pick, there is a "risk for the integrity" of the single market, it says.
Bloomberg contributed to this report