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Theresa May's White Paper Pleases Neither Brussels Nor Brexiteers - HuffPost Verdict

By Owen Bennett

  • EU workers who don’t currently live in the UK will be able to “travel freely” for “tourism and temporary business activity”, but freedom of movement will end after Brexit.

  • The UK will maintain “frictionless trade” with the EU by mirroring its customs rules, and the government wants to maintain a close relationship with the union on goods and agri-foods.

  • A new customs arrangement to be drawn up removing the the need for customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU, as if in a combined customs territory.

  • But no date specified for when new customs arrangements will come into play, or how long EU citizens will be able to work in the UK without a visa.

  • Paper’s publication sparks uproar in the Commons after Labour MPs complained they had not received a copy before Brexit secretary Dominic Raab made his statement.

By HuffPost UK’s Deputy Political Editor Owen Bennett

It’s a hard trick, but Theresa May has managed to produce a white paper which is too close to the EU for Brexiteers, but not close enough for Brussels.

The plan put forward today would see the UK form an associate agreement with the EU, would effectively keep the UK in the customs union and single market for goods, and could allow EU migrants to work in the UK without a visa – albeit on a temporary basis.

That will infuriate many Brexiteers – indeed, it is what forced David Davis, Boris Johnson and Steve Baker to quit Government.

But just because the Brexiteers are against it, doesn’t mean Brussels will like it.

The EU has consistently made it clear there can be no ‘cherry picking’ of the single market – and that’s precisely what this document does.

Effectively staying in the single market for goods, but not services, is unlikely to be an attractive proposition for the EU.

Likewise, introducing a time-limited aspect to EU migrants wanting to work in the UK waters down the principle of free movement.

If the UK can secure this deal, then what is to stop other countries wanting the same arrangement?

But at least it is a plan. It just about hangs together – but there is no doubt May will need to make compromises on certain aspects when she next sits down with Brussels negotiators.

But will she be prepared to make compromises when she sits down with Tory Hard Brexiteers?

Having refused to budge for Johnson and Davis, May will feel she needs to face down Jacob Rees-Mogg.

This is not end of the Brexit process, but it is the beginning of the end.

Negotiations with the EU will resume, and Brussels will have to give its verdict on the UK’s plan. If Theresa May gives too many concessions to the EU, it could prompt another wave of resignations from Tories who feel the UK has compromised enough.

Brexiteers will try to demonstrate their strength with a series of amendments to next week’s Trade Bill, but if they want to oust May as leader they will have to trigger a vote of no confidence before the summer recess.

Labour’s role will be key here, as they could effectively prop up the government by supporting the plan, or risk the country hurtling towards ‘no deal’ if they vote it down.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/theresa-may-white-paper-brexit_uk_5b4745d6e4b022fdcc5690b7