United Kingdom

Head of State

Prime Minister

Queen Elizabeth II

Theresa May (Conservative Party, since 2016)

Population 65,110,000
Size 242,495 km (93,628 sq. miles)
MEPs 73 (Joined the EU in 1972)
Next legislative election 2022
Presidency of the Council No Presidency
What Mrs May has said on Brexit 22 October 2018

“…First, we must make the commitment to a temporary UK-EU joint customs territory legally binding, so the Northern Ireland only proposal is no longer needed. This would not only protect relations North-South, but also, vitally, East-West. Nothing we agree with the EU under Article 50 should risk a return to a hard border or threaten the delicate constitutional and political arrangements underpinned by the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.

The second step is to create an option to extend the Implementation Period as an alternative to the backstop. I see any extension – or being in any form of backstop – as undesirable. By far the best outcome for the UK, for Ireland and for the EU – is that our future relationship is agreed and in place by 1st January 2021.

The third step is to ensure that were we to need either of these insurance policies – whether the backstop or a short extension to the Implementation Period – we could not be kept in either arrangement indefinitely.

The fourth step is for the Government to deliver the commitment we have made to ensure full continued access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market.
Northern Ireland’s businesses rely heavily on trade with their largest market – Great Britain – and we must protect this in any scenario…”

17 January 2017

“I want this United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before.”

“I want Britain to be what we have the potential, talent and ambition to be. A great, global trading nation that is respected around the world and strong, confident and united at home.”

“June the 23rd was not the moment Britain chose to step back from the world. It was the moment we chose to build a truly Global Britain.”

Brexit priorities

UK Government Brexit plan

The UK Government published the White Paper on the ‘The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union’, also called the Chequers Plan. The document represents the official UK Government’s position in the negotiations with the European Union for the Withdrawal Agreement and the Future Framework package. The document has four main directions:

Economic partnership: the UK Government is proposing a free trade area for goods, underpinned by a common rulebook and a Facilitated Customs Arrangement, to enable frictionless trade in goods at the border. Free movement will end in the UK, the Government and the Parliament will decide upon the rules that will apply to people coming to the UK from the EU.

Security partnership: The UK will no longer be part of the CSDP, the new proposed partnership being based on close cooperation such as the exchange of data (both Europol and Eurojust) and practical cooperation facilitating the swift conviction of serious criminals, through measures based on the European Arrest Warrant and European Investigation order. Cooperating with the EU on defense, cyber and space in order to tackle future threats remains a priority in the proposed partnership.

Cross-cutting and other cooperation: The future partnership will revolve around continued free flow of data to support business activity, cooperative records covering sectors such as culture and education, innovation, defense research etc. and, fishing opportunities.

• Institutional arrangements: the UK Government is proposing an overarching institutional framework, through which the future relationship will be governed and evolved such as an Association Agreement.

Preparations for no deal scenario

The UK Government has released a series of technical notices which aim to prepare the specific industries with the changes in case of no deal. The technical notices also explain the government’s overarching approach to preparing the UK for the no deal outcome in order to minimise disruption and ensure a smooth and orderly exit in all scenarios.

The EU Withdrawal Bill, which aims to transfer EU law into UK law once the UK leaves the EU, passed through Parliament on 20th June 2018. After Peers had re-tabled an amendment giving Parliament a “meaningful vote” if the Government fails to reach a Brexit deal, MPs rejected it by 319 to 303. The Bill has now received Royal Assent and has become law.

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