UK to produce ‘significant’ white paper on Brexit plans

Barnier reported to have told EU that UK’s Irish Border proposals are not realistic

The UK Government is to produce a white paper that is the ‘most significant publication on the EU since the referendum,’ UK Brexit Secretary David Davis has said. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

The UK Government is to produce a white paper that is the ‘most significant publication on the EU since the referendum,’ UK Brexit Secretary David Davis has said. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

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The UK Government is to produce a white paper that is the “most significant publication on the EU since the referendum”, UK Brexit Secretary David Davis has said.

The paper would include “detailed, ambitious and precise explanations” of the UK’s positions, with less than 11 months remaining before Britain is due to quit the continental bloc.

It came after Theresa May’s Brexit “war cabinet” met again on Tuesday without reaching agreement on which of the two options for customs arrangements on the Irish border, the so-called “customs partnership” and “maximum facilitation” models, it will back.

The EU is putting pressure on Britain to present its preferred option at the upcoming meeting of the European Council in June, though Downing Street insists it will not put a timetable on the process.

Mr Davis said the document would set out “what would change and what would feel different” after Brexit and was an opportunity for the Government to show the thought behind its approach to the change to a domestic and EU audience.

He said: “This will be our most significant publication on the EU since the referendum.

“It will communicate our ambition for the UK’s future relationship with the EU, in the context of our vision for the UK’s future role in the world.”

Mr Davis reportedly told Ms May that the customs partnership model she favours would be illegal under international law.

The Times said he wrote to Ms May setting out his fears and had the backing of other Brexit-supporting Cabinet ministers.

It said the attorney general’s office was now looking into the legality of both proposals ahead of a final decision by the Cabinet.

Conservative MPs were invited into Downing Street on Monday for a briefing from the Prime Minister and chief of staff Gavin Barwell on the “customs partnership”, believed to be Ms May’s preferred option, under which the UK would collect tariffs on the EU’s behalf, and the “max fac” scheme, which involves the use of technology to minimise friction at the Irish border.

But EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is reported to have told a Brussels meeting that it was not worth fighting about the two UK proposals, as neither of them is “realistic”.

–PA

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