What is the Government’s White Paper on Brexit all about?


Last week, the UK Government published its plans for leaving the EU in a White Paper. The White Paper sets out the basis for the Prime Minister’s 12 principles to guide the Government in fulfilling the democratic will of the people of the UK. Here, you can find out what these 12 principles are all about.

1. Proving certainty and clarity

It is important to provide businesses, the public sector and the public with as much certainty concerning the UK’s exit from the EU as possible. Ahead of, and throughout, the negotiations, the Government will provide as much information as possible without undermining the national interest. The Government will ensure legal certainty; public and parliamentary involvement and security; as well as certainty regarding funding commitments.

2. Taking control of our own laws

The UK will take control of its own affairs and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the UK. The exit from EU will mean that all laws will be made in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Wales. The UK will continue to honour its international commitments and to follow international law.

3. Strengthening the Union

It’s important that the Union faces the future together, with a shared interest in the UK being an open, successful trading nation. All devolved administrations are fully engaged in the preparations to leave the EU. The Government is working with the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to deliver an outcome that works for the whole of the UK.

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

Maintaining the UK’s strong and historic ties with Ireland will be an important priority in the talks ahead. The Common Travel Area (CTA) is a special travel zone for the movement of people between the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The Government is committed to protecting the CTA and the ability to move freely between the UK and Ireland, north-south and east-west, as it recognises the importance of this freedom to people in their daily lives.

5. Controlling immigration

The UK will remain an open and tolerant country and the Government recognises the contribution that migrants have brought and will continue to bring to the country’s economy and society. Immigration will always be welcomed; especially genuine students and those with skills and expertise, but the public must have confidence in the UK’s ability to control immigration. When leaving the EU, and consequently the EU Free Movement Directive, the new immigration system will ensure that the Government is able to control the numbers of people arriving from the EU.

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

The Government wants to secure the status of EU citizens who are already living in the UK, and that of UK nationals living in other Member States, as early as possible. This will be one of the Government’s early priorities for the forthcoming negotiations as it wishes to bring certainty to the people at the earliest opportunity possible. The Government is already working closely with a range of stakeholders in order to ensure full understanding of the potential issues facing UK nationals living in EU countries and EU nationals living in the UK.

7. Protecting workers’ rights

UK employment law already goes further than many of the standards set out in EU legislation and the Government will protect and enhance the rights people have at work. As EU law is converted into UK domestic law, the Government will ensure the continued protection of workers’ rights, for example entitlement to annual holiday and paid maternity leave. This will bring certainty and continuity to employees and employers alike, creating stability in which the UK can grow and thrive.

8. Ensuring free trade with European markets

The Government will prioritise securing the freest and most frictionless trade possible in goods and service between the UK and the EU. It will pursue a new strategic partnership with the EU, including an ambitious and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and a new customs agreement. It is in the interest of the EU and all parts of the UK to maintain the deeply integrated trade and economic relationship even after the UK exits from the EU.

9. Securing new trade agreements with other countries

The exit from the EU will bring the opportunity for the UK to strike free trade agreements with countries around the world. The UK will be champions for free trade will continue to support global trade liberalisation within the international rules based system. The EU will remain an important trading partner, but the importance of other markets outside of the EU has been increasing. By boosting trade and open markets and attract investment from successful companies, new jobs will be created and productivity and GDP will be enhanced.

10. Ensuring the United Kingdom remains the best place for science and innovation

The UK will remain on the forefront of the science and innovation in in efforts of better understanding, and make better, the world in which we live. The Government will seek agreement to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives. A global UK must be a country that looks to the future, creating new and better products, services and businesses, which will be a fundamental drive of economic growth and world-wide competitiveness.

11. Cooperating in the fight against crime and terrorism

The safety of the UK public is top priority for the Government and the UK will continue to work with the EU in order to preserve UK and European security, as well as to fight terrorism and uphold justice across Europe. The UK will remain a global power, and will continue to work and cooperate with the EU and its Member States to tackle shared challenges. The UK will continue to be a leading force in the role as a global foreign and security policy actor.

12. Delivering a smooth, orderly exit from the EU

In order to have a smooth, mutually beneficial exit from the EU, both sides will require a coherent and coordinated approach. The formal trigger of leaving the EU, invoking the two year Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, will take place no later than the end of March this year. The UK aims to have reached an agreement about a future European partnership before the end of the two year time frame set by Article 50. From there onwards, a phased process of implementation of the new arraignments is desired. Some changes may be introduced quickly, while others might take longer. The Government is confident that the UK and the EU can reach a positive and mutual beneficial deal on their future partnership.


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