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Long-awaited Brexit White Paper published

Theresa May

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The government has published its blueprint for UK relations with the EU, with Theresa May saying it will deliver a “principled and practical” Brexit.

The long-awaited White Paper is aimed at ensuring trade co-operation, with no hard border for Northern Ireland, and global trade deals for the UK.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is now briefing MPs on the details.

The plan will be presented to the EU, with the aim of securing a deal on post-Brexit trade by the Autumn.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has insisted the proposals must be workable, as the UK heads for its official departure from the EU in March next year.

The details were hammered out a summit of ministers last Friday at the prime minister’s country residence, Chequers.

But the plan has already sparked fury among many Conservative MPs, who fear it will lead to Brexit in name only,

The proposals have also triggered the resignations of Dominic Raab’s predecessor as Brexit secretary, David Davis, and ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson, from the cabinet.

The White Paper sets out four areas of future co-operation:

  • The economic partnership between the EU and the UK
  • Security co-operation
  • Future cooperation in areas like aviation and nuclear power
  • The “institutional frameworks” that will enforce the agreement

In a foreword to the White Paper, the prime minister says the agreement will “require pragmatism and compromise” from both sides.

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The proposals were approved by cabinet last Friday but soon led to a big political fallout

The document repeatedly acknowledges that the UK will have more barriers to trade in some areas than there are today.

It sets out plans for what is described as an “association agreement”, with “joint institutional arrangements” between the EU and the UK.

The paper says that the UK will end the free of movement of people, but suggests EU citizens would be allowed to come to the UK without visas to do “paid work in limited and clearly defined circumstances”.

No more detail of this was given by officials on Thursday morning, says the BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, but they rejected suggestions that it could open the door to freedom of movement for workers.

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Dominic Raab is fronting the plans after David Davis quit earlier this week

The paper also suggests that there could be “reciprocal” arrangements with the EU for the payment of certain limited benefits or social security.

Again, officials denied that this would mean widespread access to the UK benefits systems for EU nationals after Brexit, says our correspondent.

Both of these elements will be subject to the upcoming negotiation.

As the Chequers agreement set out on Friday, the UK would accept a “common rule book” for trade in goods, but not services.

The government’s aim is to preserve free trade in that part of the economy and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

The White Paper also proposes the setting up of a “governing body”, made up of UK and EU ministers, and then a “joint committee” of officials, which would enforce the agreement.

Officially, the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK would come to an end.

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A free trade zone for goods is at the heart of the proposals

British citizens or businesses would no longer be able to take issues to the European Court of Justice – and the court would no longer be able to make judgements on UK cases.

But the White Paper accepts that the European Court of Justice will be “the interpreter of EU rules” that the UK has agreed to follow in the “common rule book”.

That phrasing is likely to anger Brexiteers, says Laura Kuenssberg.

The White Paper also sets out in more detail the government’s proposed customs system, the Facilitated Customs Arrangement for goods and agri-foods, where it plans for the UK to collect some EU tariffs.

The paper confirms that the UK will not seek “mutual recognition” in the services sector, which makes up the vast majority of the economy.

A leaked version of an earlier draft of the White Paper, put together by the Brexit department under David Davis, envisaged that there would be such an arrangement.

Some MPs have already expressed concern that by pursuing a looser arrangement with the rest of the EU on services it means a “hard Brexit” for the majority of the economy while the goods sector stays closely tied to the single market, although technically not inside it.

Long-awaited Brexit White Paper published}

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