The White Paper we are publishing today sets out in detail the agreement reached by the Cabinet at Chequers last week. It is a precise, responsible and credible basis for moving our negotiations with the EU forward to achieve a deal that works in our mutual interest.
Despite good progress in a number of areas, negotiations with the EU on our future relationship have reached an impasse. The off the shelf options offered by the EU do not work for the United Kingdom. That is why we need to evolve our approach to one that honours the result of the referendum, sets us on course for a productive relationship with our closest trading partners, and maintains the constitutional and economic integrity of our United Kingdom. That is exactly what our new proposed solution does.
It honours the referendum result:
It also provides for a productive new relationship with the EU that works for businesses and maintains the constitutional integrity of our United Kingdom as an independent sovereign state.
This vision for our future relationship with the EU will be very challenging for the EU – it is in no sense a concession to their demands. Indeed we are rejecting the two models they have put forward and we are asking them to accept a bespoke model that meets the unique requirements of the United Kingdom.
Our proposal to maintain a common rulebook with the EU on goods and agricultural products and to operate a Facilitated Customs Arrangement, where we use modern technology to remove the need for customs checks, represents a new offer to the EU. It is in our national interest to make this offer because:
3As the Attorney General has made clear, there is a fundamental difference between allowing the EU institutions to make laws in and for this country without the specific assent of Parliament and a system of international arbitration that is binding only in international law. The proposals made by the Chequers agreement will exclude the former for ever. The latter is common to many international free trade treaties, which allow for international adjudication of disputes. These arrangements differ fundamentally from those of membership of the EU.
Lord Denning famously described EEC law as a tide that “flows into the estuaries and up the rivers” of the legal jurisdiction of the UK. He added “it cannot be held back. Parliament has decreed that the Treaty is henceforward to be part of our law. It is equal in force to any statute”.
But now that flow will stop. The EU institutions, including the CJEU, will no longer have the power to make laws for the United Kingdom: the principles of direct applicability, direct effect and of the supremacy of EU law will no longer apply. The only institutions that will have that power will be the Parliament and courts of the United Kingdom.
Our proposal fully honours the referendum result, is fully consistent with the principled positions set out in speeches at Lancaster House, Florence, Munich and Mansion House, and is fully consistent with our manifesto. In that manifesto, we were explicit that ‘the negotiations will undoubtedly be tough, and there will be give and take on both sides’. As the people charged with conducting these negotiations, we judge that now is the right time to evolve our UK negotiating position in order to elicit similar movement from the EU and so to move our negotiations forward to a mutually-beneficial conclusion.
But we should also be clear that for this to be a sustainable agreement it must also be a flexible one. It will therefore not only need to be able to evolve over time but also provide mechanisms for both sides to review the relationship if circumstances change. Such an approach is commonplace in trade agreements, both those struck by the EU and non-EU countries.
We are in no doubt of the strong feelings colleagues have on this subject and we fully respect them. On whichever side of the debate we stood two years ago, we believe we are all now united in wanting the best outcome for our country and the people we serve. That is a mutually- beneficial agreement with the EU that honours the result of the referendum and sets us on course for a prosperous and productive future. We look forward to ongoing engagement with colleagues as we continue our work towards that goal.