Brexit plan won’t be published until February – at the earliest

Brexit secretary, David Davis has told MPs in the Brexit select committee that the government would not publish its plan for Brexit until February at the earliest. The government was pushed to publish their plan following a Labour motion, which received overwhelming support from MPs in a vote last week.

After the vote at which MPs also voted in favour of the government’s timetable to invoke Article 50 by the end of March, Keir Starmer said that Labour would push for a plan in January.

No commitment to a white paper or detailed plan

A February plan or possibly even later means that there will be even less time for Parliament to scrutinise it. Although as Davis also declined to say whether the plan would be published as a white paper or how much detail would be in it, we don’t know whether there will be much to scrutinise. Labour has said that a “late, vague plan” would not be good enough.

Labour won’t be alone in pushing the government for a more detailed plan. A group of Tory MPs opposed to a ‘hard’ Brexit including Anna Soubry (and Nicky Morgan before she was uninvited) met with Theresa May today to urge the government for a formal white paper on Brexit.

No commitment to giving Parliament a vote on the plan

When asked further about the format of the plan, Davis said that whilst there would be debate on it, he would not commit to giving Parliament a vote. Of course, this could potentially be out of the government’s hands once the Supreme Court gives their ruling.

No EEA model in trade options that government considering

Davis indicated which trade models the government “have in mind”. They include:

  1. Remaining inside the Customs Union
  2. A “partially inside” Turkish model (Turkey does not have access to the single market but does have a bilateral customs union with the EU)
  3. Outside with a free trade agreement and a customs arrangement (so Britain would need to negotiate a new FTA as well as a bilateral customs union)
  4. Completely outside

The options he gives omit a model that would give access to the single market like Norway or Iceland who are members of the European Economic Area (EEA). Whilst Switzerland is not in the EEA, it has a series of bilateral arrangements for access to the single market. All these countries have freedom of movement of people with the EU.

At a speech yesterday, Starmer set out Labour’s plan for Brexit.  The shadow Brexit secretary said that they would push for Britain to maintain close ties to the EU and have as much access to the single market as possible. This is the main point of difference with the government’s position. Although, Starmer did also said that there must be “reasonable management of immigration”. Not quite sure how they think that would be possible given the EU’s position on free movement.

Image: David Davis | © Twocoms /
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