The Government today published a Brexit White Paper, an official policy document, setting out its negotiating strategy in its discussions with the EU. The publication comes after MPs in the House of Commons voted to allow Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the process by which the UK will leave the EU. MPs voted in favour of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill by a majority of 498 votes to 114 on Wednesday night.
The European Union Bill will now be subject to more detailed scrutiny as reaches the committee stage in the Commons next week. MPs will debate possible amendments put forward by the various parties. These include a vote for MPs on the final proposed Brexit deal and an attempt to guarantee the legal rights for EU nationals already living in the UK. In addition, it is likely that many amendments will be put forward following MPs scrutiny of Mrs May’s White Paper, due to be published today. The House of Lords also needs to review the Bill, but it is unlikely given the overwhelming support for the Bill in the Commons that there will be many objections to it from the Lords.
The White Paper is divided into twelve chapters, reflecting twelve priorities for negotiations Mrs May announced during her first major speech in January. The 77-page document covers a range of issues, including: trade – confirming that the UK will withdraw from the single market and seek a free trade agreement with the EU; immigration – a new system will be introduced in phases and will be designed to help fill skills shortages; Ireland – that the border between Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland will be as seamless and frictionless as possible; and the aim of securing an agreement in relation to EU nationals living in the UK, and Britons abroad in Europe.