Theresa May unveils Brexit blueprint
New Brexit secretary Dominic Raab defends White Paper on future relationship between UK and EU as “principled and practical”
Prime minister Theresa May finally unveils the government's blueprint for Brexit today, outlining the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
The 120-page White Paper, called “The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union”, will flesh out what the Cabinet agreed at Chequers last week.
Under the government's proposal, the UK and EU would agree a "common rule book" on regulations, enter into a free trade area for goods and strike a so-called "facilitated customs arrangement" with Brussels in order to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
However, Conservative rebels have threatened to vote down May’s plans in the Commons.
Since the meeting at Chequers, both Brexit secretary David Davis and foreign secretary Boris Johnson have quit over the prime minister's desire to keep the UK closely linked economically to the EU in the future.
- AT A GLANCE: What did the Cabinet actually agree to at Chequers?
- May conducts Cabinet reshuffle after Boris Johnson quits Foreign Office over Brexit
- Revamped HMRC customs system ‘set to be ready for no-deal Brexit’
Dominic Raab, who took over from Davis as Brexit secretary, insisted the White Paper struck the right balance between respecting the result of the EU referendum and ensuring that leaving the bloc does not harm the economy.
In his foreword to the document, he said: "Leaving the European Union involves challenge and opportunity. We need to rise to the challenge and grasp the opportunities.
"Technological revolutions and scientific transformations are driving major changes in the global economy. In line with our Modern Industrial Strategy, this government is determined to make sure the UK is ready to lead the industries of the future and seize the opportunities of global trade.
"At the same time, we need to cater for the deeply integrated supply chains that criss-cross the UK and the EU, and which have developed over our 40 years of membership. The plan outlined in this White Paper delivers this balance."
He said Britain would definitely be leaving the single market and the customs union, and would be free to strike new trade deals around the world.
However, Raab insisted the government's plan would also ensure "frictionless trade” in goods between the UK and the EU and maintain the invisible border in Ireland "without compromising the EU’s autonomy or the UK's sovereignty".
Britain also wants "to build an unrivalled security partnership", the minister said, while also co-operating in areas such as data, and science and innovation.
He added: "The White Paper details our proposal in all of these areas, setting out a comprehensive vision for the future relationship.
"It is a vision that respects the result of the referendum, and delivers a principled and practical Brexit."
However, the Guardian reports that Eurosceptics are pushing for an alternative, earlier draft of the White Paper to be published, amid claims that Davis's original proposals were sidelined by No 10.
Backbench Tories from the powerful European Research Group will use a "humble address" in parliament in a bid to force the publication of the earlier draft, which is said to be "locked in a safe" in the Department for Exiting the EU.
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