May Gets British Cabinet to Back Her Brexit Plan: UK – EU ‘Free Trade Area for Goods’

May Gets British Cabinet to Back Her Brexit Plan: UK – EU ‘Free Trade Area for Goods’

The UK’s embattled Prime Minister Theresa May has received the support of her Cabinet for her plan on Brexit which essentially stipulates a free trade area with the EU.

May managed to secure the backing of her ministers after a 12-hour-long meeting on Friday at her Chequers country residence, Reuters reports.

She appears to have gotten on board even the most adamant Brexiteers who have been firmly opposed to Britain’s remaining under any sort of EU regulation.

May’s plan is supposed to breathe new momentum into the stalled Brexit talks, although EU officials have been warning that it is already too belated.

The proposal now backed by the Cabinet of the British Conservative Party provides for retaining close trade connections between the UK and the EU and establishing a joint “free trade area for goods”, but it also does stipulate that Britain’s services sector will be excluded, and, respectively, will have less access to EU markets.

Even before May convinced her Cabinet to stand behind her Brexit plan, EU officials had cautioned that such a decoupling of goods and services in the post-Brexit UK – EU ties would contradict the rules of the EU single market, and would cause the proposal to be turned down.

According to reports, this option has already been discussed among the EU member states, and rejected, and that has in turn been communicated to the UK negotiators.

Under May’s plan, the UK would end the free movement of people with the EU, quit the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and terminate its “vast” payments to the Union.

“Today in detailed discussions the cabinet has agreed our collective position for the future of our negotiations with the EU,” the British Prime Minister declared in a statement.

“Now we must all move at pace to negotiate our proposal with the EU to deliver the prosperous and secure future all our people deserve,” she added.

“[Our earlier proposal to the EU] needed to evolve in order to provide a precise, responsible and credible basis for progressing negotiations,” the British Cabinet ministers stated in a document on the UK government’s position.

They made it clear they had agreed to negotiate for a “free trade area for goods”, in a combined customs territory with the European Union. Under such a setup, the UK would still set its own import tariffs and be able to sign free trade deals.

May’s Cabinet further decided that the British Parliament would have the power to decide whether to follow EU rules and regulations in the future.

They also agreed to accelerate the preparation of measures for a no-deal Brexit scenario.

“We will assess proposals to see if they are workable and realistic,” the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said in a tweet, while also welcoming the agreement of the British Cabinet.

May herself did not make it clear whether she expected to win the approval of the EU with her new Brexit plan.

“This is a proposal that I believe will be good for the UK and good for the EU and I look forward to it being received positively,” she told reporters.

“This is a further step, an important further step, in our negotiations with the European Union. But of course we still have work to do with the EU in ensuring that we get to that end point in October. But this is good,” the British Prime Minister elaborated.

May appears to have reassured the pro-Brexit members of her Cabinet that under her plan the UK would be free to sign free-trade deals with the rest of the world

The British Prime Minister even went as far as promising senior allies she would fire Foreign Secretary Borish Johnson, a staunch supporter of Brexit, if he would attempt “to undermine the peace deal”, The Times reported, without citing sources.

The UK is set to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, and the EU has stated that it wants a deal to be shaped by October 2018.

(Banner image: Flickr)

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