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Brexit White paper won't be published until after crunch EU summit, Theresa May reveals

3 min read

Theresa May’s detailed plan for Brexit will not be published until after the crucial EU summit later this month, it has emerged.

The Government was originally due to unveil its White Paper ahead of the crunch meeting, with Brexit Secretary David Davis promising it would represent ministers’ "most significant publication on the EU since the referendum".

But it has been repeatedly delayed, and the Prime Minister admitted last night that it would now not be published until after the European Council gathering and a Chequers summit of her warring Cabinet later this month.

She told reporters at the G7 summit: "I’ll be going to the June European Council where we'll be talking about finalising the withdrawal agreement, but also pressing on the future relationship.

"After that, I'll be bringing my ministers together for an away day at Chequers to finalise the White Paper we're going to be publishing.

"And then before Parliament breaks for the summer, we'll be bringing the Trade and Customs Bill back to the House of Commons."

The confirmation of fresh delays comes in spite of allies of Mr Davis briefing The Sun this week that he was "very bullish" about seeing the plans published ahead of the summit, and was "prepared to go to the whole Cabinet with his concerns if he has to".


Meanwhile, it has also emerged that two of Mr Davis's ministerial colleagues at the Department for Exiting the European Union were prepared to join him in resigning on Thursday during a showdown with Mrs May over the Government's customs plans.

During crunch talks with the Prime Minister this week, Mr Davis insisted on a cut-off date being including in the UK's proposed "backstop" plan, which seeks to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland by continuing close customs ties with the EU if no other solution can be found.

Following the showdown, Mrs May ended up including an "expected" end date of 2021, a move dismissed as a "fudge" by Brexiteer critics.

A source told The Telegraph that both Suella Braverman and Steve Baker had been poised to quit alongside Mr Davis, and had been left to choose between "serving the Government and staying true to what they stand for in politics".

"The situation felt more delicate than at any time since Theresa May took over," a Government source told the paper. "It could all have toppled if David Davis hadn’t pulled back from resigning."

Mrs May has insisted that the backstop plan - which she has described as "unpalatable" in a letter to her own MPs - will not be needed.

But yesterday the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier heaped scorn on the proposal, questioning plans for it to apply to the whole of the UK and saying it "raises more questions than it provides answers".

However, he later denied having outright rejected the British Government's entire position, tweeting: "This is not a rejection of the UK customs paper on which discussions continue."

The EU has instead proposed allowing only Northern Ireland to remain in the customs orbit of Brussels as part of its backstop, but Mrs May has rejected that plan, saying it would risk the break-up of the United Kingdom.

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