The Brexit blueprint for mission impossible

Leaving reluctantly? There are now 259 days until Britain is scheduled to leave the EU. © Getty

Is Brexit possible? Yesterday, the government released its White Paper on the UK’s relations with the EU. The PM says it is “principled and practical”. Parliament and the EU may disagree.

The government has published its famous White Paper — the blueprint for Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

It sets out the plan that Theresa May and her cabinet thrashed out at Chequers last weekend.

The major parts of the plan have already caused two senior ministers to quit.

There are three more potentially divisive things that jump out from the White Paper.

First, the plan is explicitly called an “association agreement” for the first time. These are usually for countries that want to join the EU. Leavers will not like the idea of using that as a model.

Second, while the government is adamant that the paper means an end to freedom of movement, it does look like there may be a way for workers to come to the UK without obtaining visas.

Third, the paper says that the UK cannot have it all. It acknowledges that, after Brexit, there will be more barriers to doing business in some areas.

The plans will now go to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, and the remaining member states ahead of October’s summit.

Even if the EU accepts the plan, May might not have enough support to push the plan through Parliament.

Is the whole thing impossible?

Edge of the cliff

Yes, say some. There is no possible Brexit that could appeal to the majority of the country. As the New Statesman put it this week, the recent months have ended “hard Brexit 0, reality 1.” The new plan foregoes any benefits of leaving. With time so short, there is no deal that could be agreed between the UK and the EU.

Of course it is possible, reply others. It just requires compromise and understanding from both sides. Remember, Britain can leave without a deal and still try to negotiate one after that. And the history of the EU shows that, when it comes down to it, a deal does get struck in the end.

You Decide

  1. Is Brexit impossible?


  1. As a class, create your own Brexit glossary where everyone in the class defines three Brexit-related terms.

Some People Say...

“This is the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Phillip II at Le Goulet in 1200.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Yesterday, the government published its plans for Britain’s future relationship with the European Union. The White Paper sets out a much softer Brexit than Theresa May had initially planned. Brexiteers are up in arms.
What do we not know?
Whether the EU will accept the new deal. We also do not know whether Parliament will accept it.

Word Watch

White Paper
A government report giving information or proposals on an issue. They may include a draft version of a Bill that is being planned.
Two senior ministers to quit
David Davis quit as Brexit minister on Sunday night to be replaced with fellow-Leave supporter Dominic Raab. The next day Boris Johnson resigned as foreign secretary. His replacement is the former health secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
Michel Barnier
A former French cabinet minister turned EU commissioner.

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