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Client Alert

White Paper Sets Out UK Government’s Brexit Strategy
Authors: Tim Wright, Samuel J. Pearse


The UK Government has published a White Paper setting out its Principles and Objectives for exiting the EU.

  • The European Union Bill—authorising Article 50 notice—passed its first hurdle on February 1, 2017.
  • MPs in the House of Commons voted by 498 to 114 in favour of the Bill.
  • The Bill now moves to the Committee phase: hundreds of amendments have been tabled by MPs, some of which will be debated in Parliament between Monday and Wednesday next week.
  • MPs will then vote again on the amended draft law before it is sent to the House of Lords.

Against this backdrop, the government has published a White Paper—an official policy document—setting out the Government’s principles and objectives for Brexit. The accompanying press release put out by the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) refers to the White Paper (full title—‘The United Kingdom’s Exit from, and New Partnership with, the European Union’) as the Government’s “plan for ‘a new, positive and constructive’ partnership in the mutual interest of the UK and the EU.” Introducing the White Paper to MPs in Parliament, Brexit Secretary David Davis said:

“The White Paper confirms the Prime Minister’s vision of an independent, truly global UK and an ambitious future relationship with the EU…It is in the UK’s interest for the EU to succeed politically and economically. And so we approach the negotiation to come in a spirit of goodwill and working to an outcome in our mutual benefit.”

Lancaster House Speech Revisited 

The White Paper expands on the 12 principles laid out by Prime Minister Theresa May in a recent speech at Lancaster House in London. But at only 77 pages, with a foreword from Theresa May, the document is light on specifics in a number of areas, consistent with the Prime Minister’s assertion that details which would undermine the Government’s negotiation position should not be made public.

Leverage Play

Pointing out that the UK exported some £230 billion worth of goods and services to the EU while importing £290 billion’s worth in 2015, the White Paper argues that it is in the interests of both the UK and the EU27 to build a new strategic partnership. 

12-Point Plan
1        Providing certainty & clarity
2   Taking control of our own Laws
3   Strengthening the Union
4   Protecting historic ties with Ireland and maintaining the Common Travel Area
5   Controlling immigration
6   Securing rights for EU Nationals in the UK and vice versa
7   Protecting workers’ rights
8     Ensuring free trade with European markets
9   Securing new trade agreements with other countries
10   Ensuring the UK remains the best place for science and innovation
11   Cooperating in the fight against crime and terrorism
12   Delivering a smooth, orderly exit from the EU

“The Government has set out its stall for an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement, and a new customs agreement, without giving away too much in terms of what it expects to have to trade in return.” —Sam Pearse, Pillsbury

Read more: White Paper Sets Out UK Government’s Brexit Strategy

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