Brexit White Paper. Too Long; Didn't Read

Yesterday (2nd February) the UK Government published its 76-page White Paper on The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union.

Read the document in full here

The contents are broken down in 12 sections aligned to the key messages contained in Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent speech on EU Exit.

Providing certainty and clarity

(from page nine)

Commits to the Great Repeal Bill to remove the European Communities Act 1972 from the statute book and convert the ‘acquis communautaire’ – the body of existing EU law – into domestic law.

The document asserts that this approach will preserve the rights and obligations that already exist in the UK under EU law and provide a secure basis for future changes to our domestic law.

A White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill will be forthcoming. The Great Repeal Bill in turn be subject to full Parliamentary scrutiny.

Taking control of our own laws

(from page thirteen)

This section highlights that 1,056 EU-related documents were deposited for parliamentary scrutiny in 2016. Continuing that “Leaving the EU will mean that our laws will be made in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, and will be based on the specific interests and values of the UK.”

This section also commits to ending the jurisdiction of the CJEU in the UK, whilst still honouring our international commitments and follow international law.

Strengthening the Union

(from page seventeen)

This section commits to achieving a good deal for all parts of the UK. This will be informed by the work of the Joint Ministerial Council, of which there have already been two meetings.

The document asserts that the process of taking decision making powers back from the EU will not mean any powers are taken from the devolved institutions. It also commits to using this opportunity to determine where more decisions could be devolved, without committing to what these may be.

Protecting our strong and historic ties with Ireland and maintaining the Common Travel Area

(from page 21)

The White Paper is strong on the importance of maintaining the existing good relationship across the border.

On the border itself, it says:

“When the UK leaves the EU we aim to have as seamless and frictionless a border as possible between Northern Ireland and Ireland, so that we can continue to see the trade and everyday movements we have seen up to now.”


“We want to protect the ability to move freely between the UK and Ireland, north-south and east-west, recognising the special importance of this to people in their daily lives.”

Controlling immigration

(from page 25)

This section opens stating, “we will remain an open and tolerant country, and one that recognises the valuable contribution migrants make to our society and welcomes those with the skills and expertise to make our nation better still. But in future we must ensure we can control the number of people coming to the UK from the EU.”

The document commits to designing an immigration system which will ensure the UK can control the numbers of people who can come here from the EU, and states “the Free Movement Directive will no longer apply.”

There is an acknowledgment that setting up new immigration measures will take time and be complex, there will be an oversight role for parliament and there may be a phased process of implementation

Securing rights for EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU

(from page 29)

This section commits to securing the rights of EU migrants who are already in the UK and UK nationals living in other EU states ‘as early as we can.’

Protecting workers’ rights

(from page 31)

The White Paper states, “As we convert the body of EU law into our domestic legislation, we will ensure the continued protection of workers’ rights.”

It continues, “As we convert the body of EU law into our domestic legislation, we will ensure the continued protection of workers’ rights.”

It also takes the opportunity to highlight those areas where UK law affords greater rights than EU law, particularly around annual leave and maternity leave.

Ensuring free trade with European markets

(from page 35)

On ensuring free trade this section recommits to removing the UK from the Single Market, whilst aiming for a new relationship with “the freest possible trade in goods and services between the UK and the EU.”

This, longest section of the document covers a range of issues including, goods, services, agriculture, food, fisheries, financial services, energy, transport, communication networks, cross cutting regulations and membership of various European Union Agencies.

Securing new trade agreements with other countries

(from page 51)

On international trade the White Paper commits to looking to “increase significantly UK trade with the fastest growing and most dynamic export markets in the world.”

Continuing, “After leaving the EU, the UK will build on these strengths and our historic role as a global trading nation to realise the opportunities available to us.”

Ensuring the UK remains the best place for science and innovation

(from page 57)

In this section the White Paper points to the recent Autumn Statement as an indicator of how committed the government is to research and innovation.

The government has established a High Level Stakeholder Working Group on EU Exit, Universities, Research and Innovation.

Cooperating in the fight against crime and terrorism

(from page 61)

On security this section states, amongst other things:

“Key European partners have made clear that they intend to continue, and indeed deepen, security cooperation, recognising UK expertise in the fight against terrorism, particularly in light of recent attacks and the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters.”

“Our commitment to cooperation on cyber security with our European and global allies will be undiminished and we will continue to work closely with international partners to build capability in countering cyber threats and to ensure the continuation of a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace.”

“The UK has an excellent record on tackling serious and organised crime, but this alone is not enough; if we are to reduce the threat of serious and organised crime we must continue to work together with our European partners”


“Although we are leaving the EU, the UK will continue to play a leading role as a global foreign and security policy actor”

Delivering a smooth, orderly exit from the EU

(from page 65)

The commitment to triggering Article 50 by the end of March is again stated here. Alongside the need for negotiations to be completed inside the two-year timescale, the sits with an assertion that a phased withdrawal would be best for both the UK and the EU.

There is also a commitment to legislating as necessary to mitigate against the effects if a deal were not to be agreed.

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