The Government's negotiating objectives: the White Paper Contents


1.In her speech at Lancaster House on 17 January 2017, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May, MP, set out the 12 principles that would guide the Government during negotiations to secure the UK’s exit from the EU.1 Further detail was provided on these principles in the Government’s White Paper on The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union, published on 2 February 2017.2

2.We agreed to report on the White Paper as the Third Report of our initial inquiry into the Government’s negotiating objectives.3 Now that notification has been given by the Government under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union of the UK’s intention to leave the EU, our work enters a new phase.

3.As with our previous reports, we have drawn on the valuable work of other select committees in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons to help to inform our thinking.

4.One of our first priorities was to launch a programme of visits around the UK, encompassing visits both to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and to different parts of England. Our visit schedule has taken in Sunderland, Aberdeen, Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, London, Boston, Truro and Swansea, as well as a visit to Dublin. We are grateful to all those who have hosted us and met with us in each of these locations. We have not only been made most welcome, but have learned a great deal about the priorities of businesses and a wide range of organisations and individuals, and have heard their thoughts on the risks and opportunities that Brexit throws up in different sectors. We published notes of our Sunderland and Aberdeen visits with our First Report. Notes of our visits to Wolverhampton and Stoke-on-Trent; London; Boston; Truro and Swansea are annexed to this Report. We also annex a note of our visit to Dublin last month.

5.We had hoped to be able take evidence from the relevant Ministers in each of the devolved nations. We took evidence from Mike Russell MSP, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Scottish Government, in Westminster and took evidence from Mark Drakeford AM, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, Welsh Government by video link.4 Although we had hoped to take evidence from the appropriate Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, the resignation of the Deputy First Minister and elections in Northern Ireland and the subsequent delay in re-establishing the Executive prevented this from being arranged in the time available. We had also arranged to visit Derry~Londonderry before the triggering of Article 50, but, postponed our visit following the death of the former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. The Committee plans to visit Northern Ireland in April 2017.

6.In her Lancaster House speech, the Prime Minister set out her 12 objectives for the negotiations. We examine each of these in turn in this Report. The Prime Minister also set out the principles that she said would guide the Government’s approach:

as we negotiate that partnership, we will be driven by some simple principles: we will provide as much certainty and clarity as we can at every stage. And we will take this opportunity to make Britain stronger, to make Britain fairer, and to build a more Global Britain too.5

7.This Report sets out the Committee’s conclusions under the chapter headings contained in the Government’s White Paper.

8.This report focuses on the Government’s negotiating objectives and not on the potential benefits and opportunities that arise from the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

9.We welcome the Government’s decision to publish a White Paper in response to a recommendation in our First Report. This document has provided some further detail on the Government’s negotiating objectives. However, as the Secretary of State has indicated, “this is likely to be the most complicated negotiation of modern times” and its outcome is far from certain.

1 The Government’s negotiating objectives for exiting the EU: Prime Minister’s Speech, Lancaster House, 17 January 2017 (The Lancaster House Speech.)

2 HM Government, The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union, CM 9417, February 2017, para 2.1 (The White Paper.)

3 See also our First Report of Session 2016–17, The process for exiting the European Union and the Government’s negotiating objectives, HC 815; and our Second Report of Session 2016–17, The Government’s negotiating objectives: the rights of UK and EU citizens, HC 1071

4 Oral evidence taken on Wednesday 8 February 2017 [Mr Russell MSP] and on Tuesday 7 March 2017 [Mr Drakeford AM]

3 April 2017