The government has published its long-awaited white paper on the UK’s relationship with the EU after Brexit.
This is the document that split Theresa May’s cabinet and prompted a flurry of resignations earlier this week.
There is no telling how much of the white paper will make it through the negotiation process with Brussels – or if there will be a deal at all.
But for now, the paper gives us more detail than we’ve ever had before about what the British government is hoping to get out of the negotiations. Here’s what we learned today:
The City will lose passporting rights
“Passporting” is the principle that lets UK financial services firms do business freely in other EEA member states.
Britain is currently the biggest exporter of financial services in the Single Market.
City firms have long feared the loss of this right, and the white paper finally confirms that “the UK can no longer operate under the EU’s ‘passporting’ regime.”
Firms like HSBC have warned that they might move jobs out of the UK over passporting, although there appears to be a spread of opinion in the City about the final impact.
It’s not just a concern for bankers. Last year Nicky Morgan, the head of the Treasury Select Committee, wrote to the chancellor warning that British expats living in EEA countries might face difficulties in getting their personal pensions paid.
Today’s white paper doesn’t say anything about risks to pensioners.
Britain will pull out of Euratom…
The government announced last year that it was planning to pull out of the European Atomic Energy Community, but some argued that it wasn’t legally necessary to leave and could be avoided.
Vote Leave’s campaign director Dominic Cummings, one of the chief architects of Brexit, sent a series of tweets blasting the decision – though some EU law experts thought it was an inevitable consequence of Brexit.
The white paper confirms that the UK will indeed leave Euratom but will try to negotiate a closer association than any other country has with the nuclear power watchdog.
… but stay in the European Convention on Human Rights
Britain’s membership of the ECHR is separate to EU membership, but Theresa May has talked about wanting to withdraw from the convention over the years.
The last Conservative election manifesto pointedly only committed the government to sticking with the Human Rights Act (which incorporates ECHR rights into UK law) “while the process of Brexit is underway”.
The white paper appears to squash the possibility of scrapping our ECHR commitments, saying: “The UK is committed to membership of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).”
This is one of many points in the white paper that is likely to annoy some members of Mrs May’s party.