UK Cabinet Publishes Controversial Brexit Blueprint
The British government released on Thursday the Brexit deal plan of Prime Minister Theresa May which was adopted by her Cabinet at Chequers last Friday but has still caused high profile resignations.
Among other stipulations, the plan provides for Britain to remain in the European single market on goods, though not on services, with the UK and the EU remaining a “combined customs territory” after Brexit.
It is far from certain that the plan will be accepted by the European Union largely because of the decoupling of goods and services that it stipulates.
The newly released Brexit White Paper of the British government provides details about its plans designed to avoid a hard border with Ireland, securing frictionless trade with the EU, while taking control over the UK’s borders.
It even describes an “association agreement”, with “joint institutional arrangements” between the EU and the UK.
The UK voted to leave the European Union on June 24, 2016, in a referendum with 51.9% to 48.1% for Brexit. It is set to depart from the Union on 29 March 2019.
The UK and the EU are aiming at striking a Brexit deal by October 2018 which would allow the British and European Parliaments sufficient time to vote on it.
The deal will decide the future relationship of Britain and Europe after a proposed transition period comes to an end, on December 31, 2020.
May’s Brexit blueprint provides the UK having a “common rulebook” with the EU for all goods, including agricultural products, and for signing a “continued harmonisation” treaty with the EU to avoid border issues, including at the land UK – EU border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Under the plan, the British Parliament will be entitled to supervising the UK’s trade policy and to deciding when it needs to diverge from the EU rules.
May’s White Paper notably provides for a decoupling of goods and services – which is expected by many to become a major hurdle to its acceptance by the EU since that contradicts the essence of the common market. Services are expected to get a different arrangement with more flexible regulations.
Under the blueprint the EU’s top judicial body, the European Court of Justice, will not have direct jurisdiction in the UK but the British courts would be required to pay “due regard” to its rulings in those fields of complete alignment between Britain and the Union. At the same, time, a “joint institutional framework” will be set up to interpret UK – EU agreements.
Even though the EU and the UK will be treated as a “combined customs territory”, the free movement of people between them will be terminated. Nonetheless, a “mobility framework” will be established to facilitate travel between the two.
May has had to reshuffle her Cabinet after it was shaken by the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson over her new Brexit plan.
On Monday, Housing Minister Dominic Raab replaced David Davis as Brexit Secretary, while May named Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as Britain’s new Foreign Secretary.
The adoption of the Brexit White Paper of May’s Cabinet had been delayed for months over intra-government disputes, and has still left many discontents such as the already former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who accused the Prime Minister of leading the UK into a “semi-Brexit” with the “status of a colony”.
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