With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement about the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.
Let me start by paying tribute to my right honourable friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden,
And his Herculean efforts along with my HF the Member for Wycombe and the wider Dexeu team,
To get us to this point …
… in both the negotiations and the successful passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill.
It is a striking achievement.
My RHF is a loss to Government, but I suspect … with the mildest apprehension … a considerable gain to this House.
Shortly, we will publish the government’s White Paper on the UK’s Future Relationship with the European Union.
It is a new and detailed proposal for a principled, pragmatic and ambitious future partnership between the UK and the EU, in line with the policy agreed at Chequers last week.
I am placing a copy of the White Paper in the Libraries of both Houses, but let me briefly set out the key proposals.
Mr Speaker, the Government is determined to build a new relationship that works for both the UK and the EU,
One grounded in our shared history,
But which looks to a bright and ambitious future.
A relationship that delivers real and lasting benefit to both sides.
First, Mr Speaker the White Paper confirms that the UK will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, forging a new way in the world - outside the Single Market, outside the Customs Union.
It safeguards the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK.
It reclaims the UK’s sovereignty.
And it protects our economic interests, by minimising the risk of disruption to trade.
Mr Speaker, it delivers on the instruction we received loud and clear from the British people – to take back control of our laws, our borders, and our money.
In delivering on this vision, the Government proposes an innovative and unprecedented economic partnership,
Maintaining frictionless trade through a new UK-EU free trade area for goods underpinned by a common rule book,
Covering only those rules necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border.
This will support business,
And meet our shared commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland,
Avoiding recourse to the so-called ‘backstop solution’.
A key component of this will be our proposal for a Facilitated Customs Arrangement (FCA), a business-friendly model that removes the need for new routine customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU,
Whilst enabling the UK to control its own tariffs to boost trade with the rest of the world.
We want a deep and comprehensive deal on services, based on the principles of international trade.
Our approach minimises new barriers to service provision,
Allowing UK firms to establish in the EU and vice-versa,
And it provides for mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
On financial services, we propose a new economic and regulatory approach with the EU that will preserve the mutual benefits of our uniquely integrated markets,
While protecting financial stability.
And, critically, the autonomy of our own rule-making.
Crucially, our proposals on services provide the UK with regulatory flexibility in the sector… including our dynamic, innovative and digital sectors …. which will, in turn, open up new possibilities in relation to trade with the wider world.
Mr Speaker, as we leave the EU, free movement of people will come to an end.
We will control the number of people who come to our country.
We will assert stronger security checks at the border.
The Government will also seek a reciprocal mobility arrangement with the EU,
In line with the approach we intend to take with other key trading partners around the world.
In practice, having ended free movement, this is about enabling firms to move their top talent across border to deliver services,
Facilitating travel without a visa for tourism and business trips,
And making sure that our students and youngsters, in the UK and EU,
Continue to benefit from the educational opportunities in universities, colleges and indeed the rich tapestry of cultural life across the continent.
Next, Mr Speaker, the White Paper addresses Europe’s security, which has and will remain the UK’s security.
This is why the Government has made an unconditional commitment to maintain it.
The Government’s proposal is for a new security partnership with the EU to tackle the shared, complex and evolving threats,
Enabling the UK and EU to act together on some of the most pressing global challenges.
It is important that the UK and EU can continue operational cooperation on law enforcement and criminal justice to keep people safe across Europe.
Our proposals extend to other areas of cooperation of vital importance to the UK and EU, including the continued protection and exchange of personal data, new arrangements on fishing, and cooperative accords on science and innovation, culture and defence research.
Mr Speaker, when we leave the EU, the European Court will no longer have jurisdiction over this country.
At the same time, we need to be able to interpret what we have agreed accurately and consistently,
And manage any future bones of contention sensibly and responsibly.
Our proposals provide for proper accountability and the consistent interpretation of UK-EU agreements by both parties.
We envisage resolving disputes that may arise through arbitration,
Which is fair, balanced and reflective of global practice.
And to provide the foundation for an enduring new relationship, the agreement must be flexible enough to enable us to review and – if necessary – revise its operation over time, in the best interests of this country,
As is common in free trade agreements across the world.
Finally Mr Speaker I would like make one thing very clear.
We will not sign away our negotiating leverage, or spend taxpayers’ money in return for nothing.
The financial settlement, which was agreed in December – substantially lower than EU demands - was agreed on the basis that it would sit alongside a deep and mutually beneficial future partnership.
We agreed that we would meet our commitments ‘as they fall due’,
With ever declining payments over a finite period, which add up to a tiny fraction of what would have been our net contribution.
Both sides have been clear nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
Indeed, that is in keeping with the spirit of Article 50.
There should be a firm commitment in the Withdrawal Agreement requiring the framework for the future relationship to be translated into legal text as soon as possible.
And of course if one party fails to honour its side of the overall bargain, there would be consequences for the whole deal.
For our part, today, the UK Government is demonstrating, with good faith, and good will, our ambition and resolve to ensure we build that deep and special partnership, with the publication of this White Paper.
Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister first outlined a blueprint for a deep and special relationship with the EU at Lancaster House, and expanded it further in her speeches in Florence, Munich and at Mansion House.
Those speeches have shaped, and they continue to shape, our negotiations with the EU.
I am confident that a deal is within reach, given the success of the Prime Minister and her negotiating team so far.
Most issues under the Withdrawal Agreement have by now been resolved,
With a deal in place to secure the rights of over three million EU citizens living in the UK and around a million UK citizens living in the EU.
And we have agreed a time-limited implementation period which gives businesses, governments and citizens the certainty to plan their lives, and invest for the future.
We will shortly publish a White Paper on the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill, setting out how we will give effect to the Withdrawal Agreement in domestic law and demonstrating to the EU that the UK is a dependable negotiating partner,
One that will deliver on its commitments.
So Mr Speaker, our discussions with the EU will squarely focus on our shared future.
This White Paper sets out how we can achieve that new partnership.
Now, it is time for the EU to respond in kind.
We approach these negotiations with a spirit of pragmatism, compromise and indeed friendship.
I hope, I trust that the EU will engage with our proposals in the same spirit,
And I plan to meet Michel Barnier next week to discuss the detail in person.
At the same time, Mr Speaker, the government is preparing, in the event that that spirit of pragmatism and goodwill is not reciprocated.
And on Monday, I spoke with my right honourable friend, the Prime Minister.
We agreed to step up our planning for a no-deal scenario,
So that the UK is ready for Brexit … no matter what the outcome of these negotiations.
It is the responsible thing for a Government to do.
Mr Speaker, this White Paper sets out the right Brexit deal:
Delivering on the result of the referendum, taking back control over our money, laws and borders.
Supporting the economy
By maintaining a strong trading relationship after we have left.
Ending free movement,
Whilst avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or indeed between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Restoring the sovereignty of Parliament and the authority of the UK Supreme Court.
Seizing the opportunity to forge new trade deals around the world.
And maintaining cooperation with the EU in many other areas we prize, including security co-operation to keep our people safe.
This is our vision for a bold, ambitious and innovative new partnership with the EU.
Principled and practical,
Faithful to the referendum,
It delivers a deal that is good for the UK, and good for our EU friends,
And I commend this statement and the White Paper to the House.