The British government formally set out details for the first time Thursday of its strategy for Britain’s departure from the European Union.
The 77-page “white paper” was published a day after lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that once finalized would give May the authority to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty — the formal process of leaving the EU.
It contained few clues about the government’s overall strategy that were not evident in a speech delivered by Prime Minister Theresa May in January. But it fleshed out aspects of May’s plan in some key areas.
The white paper said:
• The UK will seek a “new strategic partnership” with Europe. While the UK would leave the EU single market and customs union, it would seek to keep “elements” of the free-trade zone.
• No “cliff-edge” Brexit. The government said it would seek transitional arrangements to minimize the impact of Britain’s departure front he EU.
• Early targets for trade deals would be the US, China, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, India and states in the Persian Gulf. It would seek “continuity” of arrangements with other countries that are currently covered by EU deals.
• The government hopes for an “early” agreement on the status of the 2.8 million EU nationals who live in the UK. It expressed disappointment that a number of EU states had blocked attempts to sort the issue out before formal divorce talks begin.
• It offered no guarantee on the status of the Irish border. The government said only that it would “aim” to protect the common travel area that exists between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which will remain in the EU. The issue is a key part of the deal that brought peace to Northern Ireland.
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