4 min read

The Guardian: The government’s long-awaited white paper laying out its Brexit proposals has been published, the longest and most detailed explanation yet of the government’s hopes for the future relationship with the EU. It lays out many of the same elements detailed after the cabinet’s meeting at Chequers last week.

The white paper says it seeks “a principled and practical Brexit”, arguing that its proposals follow on from Theresa May’s previous set-piece speeches at Lancaster House, Florence, Mansion House and Munich, “and in doing so addresses questions raised by the EU in the intervening months”.

It says the hope is the white paper will see “a redoubling of efforts in the negotiations”. The main purpose, its argues, is “respecting the result of the referendum and the decision of the UK public to take back control of the UK’s laws, borders and money”.

The new relationship with EU should be “broader in scope than any other that exists between the EU and a third country”.

The aim would be “a practical Brexit”, with both sides “confident they can trust and rely on the commitments made to each other”. This would involve regular dialogue, joint institutions, and “robust and appropriate” means to resolve disputes, involving binding arbitration which would refer to the European court of justice.

Five key objectives

As part of the principles it lays out five main areas of focus:

  1. The economy: “developing a broad and deep economic relationship with the EU that maximises future prosperity … and minimises disruption to trade between the UK and the EU, protecting jobs and livelihoods – at the same time making the most of trading opportunities around the world”.
  2. Communities: ending free movement with a new immigration system, support for farming and fisheries, and what is called a “shared prosperity fund”.
  3. The union: protecting the Northern Ireland peace process, avoiding a hard Irish border, safeguarding the constitutional integrity of the UK, and devolving appropriate powers.
  4. Democracy: leaving EU institutions and reclaiming UK sovereignty, ensuring laws are made in UK.
  5. The UK’s place in the world: promoting general principles such as openness and liberty.

The aim, the white paper says, is for a free trade area for goods, giving frictionless border access. This would “protect the uniquely integrated supply chains and ‘just in time’ processes” with no “costly customs declarations”.

The plan would “enable products to only undergo one set of approvals and authorisations in either market, before being sold in both”.

There would be separate arrangements for services, giving the UK freedom “to chart its own path in the areas that matter most for its economy”.

The proposal would involve a common rulebook on food and agriculture, and UK participation in EU agencies for chemicals, aviation, medicines, “accepting the rules of these agencies and contributing to their costs”.

Movement of people

Free movement of people from the EU to the UK will end, the white paper says. While details of future migration policy will be decided in the months to come, the UK will seek to still attract the “best and brightest” from the EU.

The new arrangements will seek to help businesses get the right staff, allow citizens to travel visa-free for tourism or temporary business trips, and help students study abroad.

This would see the UK and EU become a “combined customs territory”, in which the UK would apply the EU’s tariffs and trade policies for goods intended for the bloc, with domestic tariffs imposed for goods heading to the UK.

The FCA, according to the white paper, would “preserve frictionless trade for the majority of UK goods trade, and reduce frictions for UK exporters and importers”.

The government would “explore options to use future advancements in technology to streamline the process”, including machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Security partnership

This would mean continued sharing of data and information to protect citizens, and UK participation in agencies such as Europol. It would also involve coordination on foreign policy and defence issues.