UK pub­lishes Brexit plan that sparked re­bel­lion

The pol­icy pa­per sets out plans for close eco­nomic ties with the bloc af­ter Bri­tain leaves the EU in March

Oman Daily Observer - - WORLD -

LON­DON: The Bri­tish govern­ment pub­lished its long-awaited Brexit blue­print on Thurs­day that it hopes will restart talks with the EU, but its launch was mired in farce af­ter a protest by MPS briefly sus­pended a sit­ting of the House of Com­mons.

The pol­icy pa­per, which sets out plans for close eco­nomic ties with the bloc af­ter Bri­tain leaves the EU in March, had al­ready sparked two min­is­te­rial res­ig­na­tions and re­vived talk of a re­volt against Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

When Brexit Sec­re­tary Do­minic Raab stood up to present the plan in the Com­mons, MPS loudly com­plained they had not seen a copy be­fore­hand — prompt­ing the speaker to sus­pend pro­ceed­ings for five min­utes to al­low them to ob­tain one.

Raab, who was ap­pointed on Mon­day af­ter his pre­de­ces­sor David Davis quit, then con­tin­ued his state­ment, de­scrib­ing the pro­posal on of­fer as “in­no­va­tive”.

It sug­gests a free trade area and “com­mon rule book” with the EU in goods af­ter pres­sure from busi­nesses to al­low cross-bor­der trade to con­tinue as nor­mal.

Bri­tain would still leave the EU sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union and set its own path on the far big­ger ser­vices sec­tor, hop­ing to be able to curb EU im­mi­gra­tion and strike its own trade deals with third coun­tries.

For the City of Lon­don the plan would ac­cept that firms lose their “pass­port­ing” rights to op­er­ate in the EU, but seeks a hy­brid ar­range­ment.

Cather­ine Mcguin­ness, head of pol­icy for the City of Lon­don Cor­po­ra­tion, said the pro­pos­als rep­re­sented a “real blow” for fi­nance firms.

The plan has also caused out­rage among euroscep­tic mem­bers of May’s Con­ser­va­tive party, and for­eign min­is­ter Boris John­son joined Davis in dra­mat­i­cally quit­ting this week in protest.

Their de­par­tures, fol­lowed by a clutch of ju­nior aides, desta­bilised May’s govern­ment and re­vived talk of a lead­er­ship chal­lenge.

“What we are do­ing is de­liv­er­ing on the vote of the Bri­tish peo­ple... that’s what our pro­posal does,” she told re­porters at a Nato sum­mit in Brus­sels.

The prime min­is­ter is also likely to face some op­po­si­tion in Brus­sels, where of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly warned Bri­tain to lower its ex­pec­ta­tions about how close ties can be.

“Of course the EU-27 is open to com­pro­mise but not one that can un­der­mine the main pil­lars of the sin­gle mar­ket,” an EU of­fi­cial said on con­di­tion of anonymity.

May has briefed lead­ers in­clud­ing EU Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel on her plan and re­ported a pos­i­tive re­sponse, al­though they are await­ing the de­tails.

Bri­tain does not have long to ar­gue its case — both sides are aim­ing for a deal by Oc­to­ber, to al­low time for its rat­i­fi­ca­tion by the Bri­tish and Euro­pean par­lia­ments.

Fail­ure to agree would see Bri­tain leave the EU with­out a deal, with the risk of huge eco­nomic dis­rup­tion on both sides of the Chan­nel.

What we are do­ing is de­liv­er­ing on the vote of the Bri­tish peo­ple... that’s what our pro­posal does THERESA MAY UK Prime Min­is­ter

— Reuters

PRO-EU cam­paign group ‘Open Bri­tain’ drives a bro­ken car around Par­lia­ment Square on a low loader, as the govern­ment re­leased their Brexit ‘White Pa­per’, in West­min­ster, Lon­don, on Thurs­day.

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