Brexit White Paper: the key points

Britain has published a document setting out its plans for negotiating leaving the EU

The 77-page paper reiterated the 12 priorities set out by prime minister Theresa May during a speech last month

The 77-page paper reiterated the 12 priorities set out by prime minister Theresa May during a speech last month


The British government published a “White Paper” policy document on Thursday, setting out its plans for coming negotiations on leaving the European Union.

The 77-page paper reiterated the 12 priorities set out by prime minister Theresa May during a speech last month, including that Britain would seek a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU.

Here are some of the key points:

Free trade agreement:

“That agreement may take in elements of current single market arrangements in certain areas as it makes no sense to start again from scratch when the UK and the remaining member states have adhered to the same rules for so many years. Such an arrangement would be on a fully reciprocal basis and in our mutual interests.”

Transitional arrangements after the talks:

“We want to have reached an agreement about our future partnership by the time the two-year Article 50 process has concluded.

“From that point onwards, we believe a phased process of implementation, in which the UK, the EU institutions and member states prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us, will be in our mutual interest.

“This might be about our immigration controls, customs systems or the way in which we co-operate on criminal and civil justice matters. Or it might be about the future legal and regulatory framework for business.

“For each issue, the time we need to phase in the new arrangements may differ; some might be introduced very quickly, some might take longer. And the interim arrangements we rely upon are likely to be a matter of negotiation.

“The UK will not, however, seek some form of unlimited transitional status. That would not be good for the UK and nor would it be good for the EU.”

The ‘Great Repeal Bill’:

“To provide legal certainty over our exit from the EU, we will introduce the Great Repeal Bill to remove the European Communities Act 1972 from the statute book and convert the ‘acquis’ - the body of existing EU law - into domestic law.

“We will bring forward a White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill that provides more detail about our approach.”

“Any significant policy changes will be underpinned by other primary legislation - allowing parliament the opportunity to debate and scrutinise the changes. For example, we expect to bring forward separate bills on immigration and customs.”


“We are considering very carefully the options that are open to us to gain control of the numbers of people coming to the UK from the EU. As part of that, it is important that we understand the impacts on the different sectors of the economy and the labour market.

“We will, therefore, ensure that businesses and communities have the opportunity to contribute their views. Equally, we will need to understand the potential impacts of any proposed changes in all the parts of the UK.

“Implementing any new immigration arrangements for EU nationals and the support they receive will be complex and parliament will have an important role in considering these matters further.

“There may be a phased process of implementation to prepare for the new arrangements. This would give businesses and individuals enough time to plan and prepare for those new arrangements.”

New customs arrangements:

“Whatever form that customs arrangement takes, and whatever the mechanism to deliver it, we will seek to maintain many of the facilitations that businesses currently enjoy, whilst aiming that, if there are requirements for customs procedures, these are as frictionless as possible.

“Whilst we will look at precedents set by customs agreements between other countries, we will not seek to replicate another country’s model and will pursue the best possible deal for the UK.”

Dispute resolution with the EU:

“The UK will seek to agree a new approach to interpretation and dispute resolution with the EU.”

“Different dispute resolution mechanisms could apply to different agreements, depending on how the new relationship with the EU is structured.

“Any arrangements must be ones that respect UK sovereignty, protect the role of our courts and maximise legal certainty, including for businesses, consumers, workers and other citizens.”

The EU budget:

“Once we have left the EU, decisions on how taxpayers’ money will be spent will be made in the UK. As we will no longer be members of the single market, we will not be required to make vast contributions to the EU budget.

“There may be European programmes in which we might want to participate. If so, it is reasonable that we should make an appropriate contribution. But this will be a decision for the UK as we negotiate the new arrangements.”

Security co-operation:

“It is in all our interests that we continue our deep cooperation with the EU and its member states.

“As we exit, we will...look to negotiate the best deal we can with the EU to co-operate in the fight against crime and terrorism.”