Official Brexit negotiating strategy revealed
Zoe Catchpole, Political Reporter,Sky News 9 minutes ago comments Sign in to like Reblog on Tumblr Share Tweet Email
The Prime Minister has laid out the Government’s official Brexit strategy, urging the country to come together and promising to “get on with it”.
The 77-page White Paper, with a foreword from Theresa May, expands on the 12-point plan for leaving the EU set out by the Prime Minister in her big Brexit speech last month.
In it the Government promises to control immigration, leave the single market and seek a “bold free trade agreement” with the EU.
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It promises to broker a new customs agreement and repeats the threat that “no deal for the UK is better than a bad deal” and the UK would take action if unreasonable terms are offered.
Making his statement on the White Paper in the House of Commons, Brexit Secretary David Davis said there would be a transitional phase before the official split from the EU.
But he promised: “A never-ending transitional status is emphatically not what we need, not what we seek.”
The Brexit plan was immediately attacked by Labour for being produced too late and “saying nothing”.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “It’s a wishlist, not an action plan.”
He said: “Today’s White Paper is indicative of the Government’s whole approach to Brexit.
“For months they have refused to publish a plan or allow proper scrutiny, and when they are finally forced to produce a White Paper it is rushed, limited and not well thought through.”
Sir Keir was highly critical of the document’s failure to guarantee the rights of the 3.3 million EU citizens living in the UK. Mr Davis insisted he would not be “throwing people out of Britain”.
However, the official proposals say new immigration arrangements for EU nationals will be “complex” and there may have to be a “phased process of implementation”.
The Brexit Secretary promised there would be separate legislation on immigration and customs but the White Paper gives little detail on any new immigration system. It says the Government will “look to develop a system that works”.
Sky’s Political Editor Faisal Islam said: “Some of the technicalities, it does go into. It wasn’t merely, as some cynics suggested, a print-out of Theresa May’s speech at Lancaster House.
“On the crucial issues around which MPs seem to be crystallising a bit of concern… no great extra detail.”
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The proposals also promise the UK will no longer have to make “vast contributions to the EU budget” but gives no estimate for the cost of Brexit.
It comes the day after the former UK ambassador to EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, that the Government could face a €60bn (£51bn) bill from the EU just to get out of the exit door and would face “fist fights” with EU countries over money.
On Ireland, the Government has always said it does not want to see a return to a “hard border”, but the proposals commit only to “find a practical solution that keeps the border as seamless and frictionless as possible”.
On Wednesday, MPs backed, by a majority of 384, the Article 50 bill that allows the Prime Minister to trigger EU divorce proceedings and start negotiations.
There will be two further days of debate on the bill in which MPs will try to introduce amendments to the legislation.
Labour wants guarantees of regular updates on the Brexit process, access to the single market and guarantees of a proper vote on the final EU exit deal.