The UK government presented to Parliament on Thursday the details of its plan on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU after Brexit, during a meeting that had to be temporarily interrupted because of protests by deputies. When Brexit Minister Dominic Raab spoke in the House of Commons to present the document, MPs loudly protested, complaining that they had not received a copy and forcing the Speaker of the House to interrupt the session for a few minutes.
Dominic Raab then went on to described the « innovative » government plan.
According to the White Paper, London wants to establish a new « free trade area for goods », designed to maintain a « friction free » trade on both sides of the Channel. This should allow, through the introduction of a « simplified customs arrangement », to « avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland », a red line shared by London and Brussels. The services sector would be the subject of a new agreement, offering the United Kingdom « the freedom to chart its own course in the most important areas of its economy. »
The government recognises, however, that for services such an agreement will lead to « more barriers » than exists today, and will deprive financial institutions of their « European passport » which allows them to operate freely on the continent.
The City of London has denounced it as « a real blow » for the British financial centre. With regard to the movement of people, London wants to develop a « new framework that respects British border controls », while allowing citizens to travel « to their respective countries ».
If agreed to by the EU, the United Kingdom would remain a member of the Europol and Eurojust agencies and develop « coordination » agreements on foreign and defense policy issues. Current deployments of « operational capabilities » on both sides of the Channel would be maintained.
On the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels, Theresa May assured that these proposals were in accordance with the will of the British people as expressed in the June 2016 referendum. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, reacted to the proposals on Twitter, saying that he was « impatient to negotiate with the UK next week. »