Friday 17 August 2018

Explainer: How Theresa May hopes to negotiate Britain out of Europe, while 'avoiding friction at Border'

British Prime Minister Theresa May sets out her Brexit plans as Brexiteer minister Penny Mordaunt (left) watches on, arms crossed during a Cabinet meeting at Chequers. Picture: PA
British Prime Minister Theresa May sets out her Brexit plans as Brexiteer minister Penny Mordaunt (left) watches on, arms crossed during a Cabinet meeting at Chequers. Picture: PA

Christopher Hope

Theresa May's UK cabinet has released a three-page summary of their proposed Brexit deal with the European Union after a 12-hour meeting in Chequers.

The statement, signed by "HM Government" and issued yesterday evening, sets out the terms upon which the UK will seek to negotiate its exit from the EU.

Free trade area

Britain will seek to establish with the EU a more "developed and comprehensive proposal for the economic partnership" with at its core "a free trade area for goods".

It says: "This would avoid friction at the border, protect jobs and livelihoods, and ensure both sides meet their commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland through the overall future relationship." The deal "would see the UK and the EU meet their commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland through the overall future relationship: preserving the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK".

Trade in goods

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Michael Gove and Boris Johnson Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Britain will have shared rules on goods, including food "with the UK making an upfront choice to commit by treaty to on-going harmonisation with EU rules on goods, covering only those necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border".

The UK - once out of the EU - will "continue to play a strong role in shaping the international standards that underpin them, and its parliament would have oversight of the incorporation of these rules into the UK's legal order - with the ability to choose not to do so, recognising that this would have consequences".

However the UK and EU will diverge on services "where it is in our interests to have regulatory flexibility, recognising the UK and the EU will not have current levels of access to each other's markets".

The UK and EU will both follow the same rules on state aid.

Britain will seek accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership so it can trade with the US and Asian countries.

Courts

Britain and the EU will agree that their own courts can settle disputes in their jurisdictions - although UK courts will have to follow EU case law in some instances. This will worry Eurosceptics as it appears to suggest that British courts will be subservient to EU courts.

Border checks

A new Facilitated Customs Arrangement will be set up to "remove the need for customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU as if a combined customs territory", the agreement says. Under this arrangement - which is very similar to the New Customs Partnership - Britain effectively becomes a collector of tariffs on goods for the EU.

It says: "The UK would apply the UK's tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the UK, and the EU's tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the EU."

Immigration

Free movement will end after Brexit "giving the UK back control over how many people enter the country", the agreement says.

However, Eurosceptic MPs will sound the alarm about a new "mobility framework" which appears to allow freedom of movement of labour between the UK and the EU.

No deal

Plans for Britain leaving the EU without an agreement will now be "stepped up", the agreement says, recognising that a no deal is a "possibility".

Irish Independent

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