Monday, 27 February 2017
 

Brexit Plan Published In Government White Paper

Written by  Feb 02, 2017

The government has published an official policy document setting out its Brexit plans.

The White Paper lays out the government's 12 "principles" including migration control and "taking control of our own laws".

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the UK's "best days are still to come", outside the EU.

Labour said the document "says nothing" and had been produced too late for "meaningful" scrutiny.

The White Paper's publication comes after pressure from MPs across the House of Commons.

It sets out the themes of the government's goals for its negotiations with the EU, as announced by Prime Minister Theresa May last month.

These include withdrawing from the EU single market and customs union and negotiating a new free trade agreement.

It also says reaching an early deal on the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British expats in Europe has "not proven possible", saying the government wants to secure an agreement with European countries "at the earliest opportunity" during the formal talks.

And it says the government will "keep our positions closely held and will need at times to be careful about the commentary we make public", with MPs offered a vote on the final deal.

Labour is calling for a "meaningful vote" that could send the prime minister back to the negotiating table if the deal is deemed unsatisfactory by MPs.

Formal negotiations can begin once the UK has given notice of Brexit under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which Mrs May has promised to do by the end of March.

On Wednesday evening MPs voted to allow the PM to do this as they backed the European Union Bill by 498 votes to 114.

MPs will discuss the bill in more detail next week when it reaches the committee stage in the Commons, and Labour has vowed to force through amendments.

Hundreds of amendments have already been tabled for debate between Monday and Wednesday, with objectives set out in the government's strategy expected to attract more.

A total of 47 Labour rebels voted against the bill.

Shadow cabinet members Rachael Maskell and Dawn Butler quit the party's front bench shortly before Wednesday evening's vote, and in total, 13 Labour frontbenchers voted against their own party position which was to support the bill.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said other parties had also been divided on the issue, with two of the Liberal Democrats' nine MPs abstaining despite orders to oppose the bill.

Mr McDonnell said a decision on whether frontbench rebels could remain in their jobs would be taken "in due course", and that the atmosphere in his party was "one of mutual respect", with determination to oppose a "reckless Brexit".

 

He said Labour "may look divided" but would unite after the government triggers official negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty while "the Tory Party will split apart".

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