Theresa May unveils Brexit blueprint amid mounting Tory rebellion

Posted On: 
11th July 2018

Theresa May will finally unveil the Government's blueprint for Brexit - as Conservative rebels threaten to vote down the plans in the Commons. 

EU and UK flags The Government says its Brexit White Paper is 'practical and principled'.
Credit: 
PA Images

The 120-page White Paper, called 'The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union', will flesh out what the Cabinet agreed at Chequers last week.

Since then, however, both Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have quit over the Prime Minister's desire to keep the UK as closely linked economically to the EU as possible in the future.

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Under the Government's proposal, the UK and EU would agree a "common rule book" on regulations, enter into a free trade area for goods and strike a so-called "facilitated customs arrangement" with Brussels in order to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

But Brexiteer Tory MPs, led by Jacob Rees Mogg, vowed to vote down the plans and have tabled amendments to the Trade Bill due in the Commons next week in a bid to force Mrs May's hand.

Dominic Raab, who took over from Mr Davis as Brexit Secretary, insisted the white paper struck the right balance between respecting the result of the EU referendum and ensuring that leaving the bloc does not harm the economy.

In his foreword to the document, he said: "Leaving the European Union involves challenge and opportunity. We need to rise to the challenge and grasp the opportunities.  

"Technological revolutions and scientific transformations are driving major changes in the global economy. In line with our Modern Industrial Strategy, this government is determined to make sure the UK is ready to lead the industries of the future and seize the opportunities of global trade.

"At the same time, we need to cater for the deeply integrated supply chains that criss-cross the UK and the EU, and which have developed over our 40 years of membership. The plan outlined in this White Paper delivers this balance."

He said Britain would definitely be leaving the single market and the customs union, and would be free to strike new trade deals around the world.

However, Mr Raab insisted the Government's plan would also ensure "frictionless trade in goods between the UK and the EU and maintain the invisible border in Ireland "without compromising the EU’s autonomy or the UK's sovereignty".

Britain also wants "to build an unrivalled security partnership", the minister said, while also co-operating in areas such as data, and science and innovation.

He added: "The White Paper details our proposal in all of these areas, setting out a comprehensive vision for the future relationship.

"It is a vision that respects the result of the referendum, and delivers a principled and practical Brexit."

However, the Guardian reports that Eurosceptics are pushing for an alternative, earlier draft of the White Paper to be published, amid claims that Mr Davis's original proposals were sidelined by Number 10.

Backbench Tories from the powerful European Research Group will use a "humble address" in parliament in a bid to force the publication of the earlier draft, which is said to be "locked in a safe" in the Department for Exiting the EU.

BIZARRE

Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne, a former parliamentary aide to David Cameron, became the latest backbencher to criticise the Chequers deal, but said he would still vote for it if the alternative was no Brexit at all.

He said: "We are the eighth largest manufacturing nation in the world. When it comes to high tech manufacturing we are in the top three. It is just bizarre, given the importance to us of manufacturing, that we would allow all our laws, regulations and specifications to be determined in another country, with that country’s own interests in mind, and with no regard to our own.

"It would also scupper our ability to make new independent trading agreements. It is just madness, I cannot see how I could possibly vote for it.

"Yes, I want to vote to change the Government’s newly defined Brexit policy, but when it comes to the crunch I would choose the Government’s Brexit recipe if the alternative is no Brexit at all, which I now judge to be a real prospect."

 

PoliticsHome member KPMG has responded to the Brexit White Paper saying it will be welcomed by most businesses, because: "Although the document may not offer additional certainty on the final deal, it does provide some much sought after clarity on the UK’s negotiating position." Read the full response here.