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David Davis Resignation

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48 hours following the meeting of the cabinet at Chequers, David Davis resigns as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union saying that he was no longer the best person to deliver the PM’s Brexit plan as he did not “believe” in it.

Here’s the resignation letter from David Davis and the response from Theresa May.

8th July 2018

Dear Prime Minister

As you know there have been a significant number of occasions in the last year or so on which I have disagreed with the Number 10 policy line, ranging from accepting the Commission’s sequencing of negotiations through to the language on Northern Ireland in the December Joint Report. At each stage I have accepted collective responsibility because it is part of my task to find workable compromises, and because I considered it was still possible to deliver on the mandate of the referendum, and on our manifesto commitment to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market.

I am afraid that I think the current trend of policy and tactics is making that look less and less likely. Whether it is the progressive dilution of what I thought was a firm Chequers agreement In February on right to diverge, or the unnecessary delays of the start of the White Paper, or the presentation of a backstop proposal that omitted the strict conditions that I requested and believed that we had agreed, the general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one.

The Cabinet decision on Friday crystallised this problem. In my view the inevitable consequence of the proposed policies will be to make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real.
As I said at Cabinet, the “common rule book” policy hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense.

I am also unpersuaded that our negotiating approach will not just lead to further demands for concessions.

Of course this is a complex area of judgement and it is possible that you are right and I am wrong. However, even in that event it seems to me that the national interest requires a Secretary of State in my Department that is an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript. While I have been grateful to you for the opportunity to serve, it is with great regret that I tender my resignation from the Cabinet with immediate effect.

Yours ever

David Davis

Here’s the response from Theresa May

Dear David

Thank you for your letter explaining your decision to resign as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

I am sorry that you have chosen to leave the Government when we have already made so much progress towards delivering a smooth and successful Brexit, and when we are only eight months from the date set in law when the United Kingdom will leave the European Union.

At Chequers on Friday, we as the Cabinet agreed a comprehensive and detailed proposal which provides a precise, responsible, and credible basis for progressing our negotiations towards a new relationship between the UK and the EU after we leave in March. We set out how we will deliver on the result of the referendum and the commitments we made in our manifesto for the 2017 general election:

1. Leaving the EU on 29 March 2019.

2. Ending free movement and taking back control of our borders.

3. No more sending vast sums of money each year to the EU.

4. A new business-friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world.

5. A UK-EU free trade area with a common rulebook for industrial goods and agricultural products which will be good for jobs.

6. A commitment to maintain high standards on consumer and employment rights and the environment.

7. A Parliamentary lock on all new rules and regulations.

8. Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.

9. Restoring the supremacy of British courts by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.

10. No hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

11. Continued, close co-operation on security to keep our people safe.

12. An independent foreign and defence policy, working closely with the EU and other allies.

This is consistent with the mandate of the referendum and with the commitments we laid out in our general election manifesto: leaving the single market and the customs union but seeking a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement; ending the vast annual contributions to the EU; and pursuing fair, orderly negotiations, minimising disruption and giving as much certainty as possible so both sides benefit.

As we said in our manifesto, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside our withdrawal, reaching agreement on both within the two years allowed by Article 50.

I have always agreed with you that these two must go alongside one another, but if we are to get sufficient detail about our future partnership, we need to act now. We have made a significant move: it is for the EU now to respond in the same spirit.

I do not agree with your characterisation of the policy we agreed at Cabinet on Friday.

Parliament will decide whether or not to back the deal the Government negotiates, but that deal will undoubtedly mean the returning of powers from Brussels to the United Kingdom.

The direct effect of EU law will end when we leave the EU. Where the UK chooses to apply a common rulebook, each rule will have to be agreed by Parliament.

Choosing not to sign up to certain rules would lead to consequences for market access, security co-operation or the frictionless border, but that decision will rest with our sovereign Parliament, which will have a lock on whether to incorporate those rules into the UK legal order.

I am sorry that the Government will not have the benefit of your continued expertise and counsel as we secure this deal and complete the process of leaving the EU, but I would like to thank you warmly for everything you have done over the past two years as Secretary of State to shape our departure from the EU, and the new role the UK will forge on the world stage as an independent, self-governing nation once again.

You returned to Government after nineteen years to lead an entirely new Department responsible for a vital, complex, and unprecedented task.

You have helped to steer through Parliament some of the most important legislation for generations, including the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent last week.

These landmark Acts, and what they will do, stand as testament to your work and our commitment to honouring the result of the referendum.

Yours sincerely,

Theresa May

Chequers Meeting – 6 July 2018

The Prime Minister called a meeting of her entire Cabinet at Chequers, to finalise the Government’s Brexit trade policy and customs arrangement with the EU prior to publishing the official White Paper. The meeting was held on 6 July 2018.

It appeared to be an attempt to force her cabinet to back her vision for Brexit with apparent threats to sack ministers if they were to speak out against her plans.

This follows an earlier meeting of the Brexit War Cabinet which rejected her plans. Officially, this is the Brexit strategy and negotiation sub-committee which is chaired by Theresa May and meets to decide the detail of Brexit policies before presenting it to the full 23-member Cabinet for discussion and approval. Members of the Brexit War Cabinet are split with 5 from the Remain camp and 5 from the Leave camp.

In the full cabinet of 23 members, ministers in favour of Brexit are heavily outnumbered by 16 to 7

A number of statements were issued following the marathon 12 hour meeting, with no dissent eminating from ministers favouring Brexit, and appears to indicate a joint agreement was reached by the entire cabinet.

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

Today in detailed discussions the Cabinet has agreed our collective position for the future of our negotiations with the EU.

Our proposal will create a UK – EU free trade area which establishes a common rule book for industrial goods and agricultural products. This maintains high standards in these areas, but we will also ensure that no new changes in the future take place without the approval of our Parliament.

As a result, we avoid friction in terms of trade, which protects jobs and livelihoods, as well as meeting our commitments in Northern Ireland.

We have also agreed a new business-friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world.

Next week we will be publishing a white paper which will set out more details of how we will be taking back control of our money, laws and borders.

Now we must all move at pace to negotiate our proposal with the EU to deliver the prosperous and secure future all our people deserve.

The initial document published is the statement from the Government

Government Statement following the Cabinet away-day at Chequers

and a summary was published

“Here are 12 key principles that we will use in our EU negotiations as we continue along the road to Brexit.” – PM @Theresa_May”

However, it remains to be seen whther this is the end of the story …

UK Plan for an Independent Fisheries Policy

A blueprint for a sustainable and profitable fishing industry that will regenerate coastal communities and support future generations of fishermen has been set out today (04 July 2018).

Outside the EU, the UK will be an independent coastal state and will regain control of our waters and natural resources, as well as the flexibility to negotiate with other countries and ensure stocks are fished sustainably.

The Fisheries White Paper – ‘Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations’ – charts our course for managing fisheries after Brexit. It outlines how powers to be proposed in the Fisheries Bill, which will be introduced in this session of Parliament, will give the UK full control of its waters and the ability to set fishing opportunities such as quota.

Documents available include:

Consultation Letter

Consultation Document -Sustainable fisheries for future generations

Details at

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/fisheries-white-paper-sustainable-fisheries-for-future-generations

In a Press Release, Theresa May said:

As an island nation our fishing industry is the lifeblood of coastal communities around the UK. I have been clear that when we leave the EU we will take back control of our waters, while ensuring we don’t see our fishermen unfairly denied access to other waters.

The plans set out today demonstrate the bright future in store as we build UK fishing industry for future generations by putting the importance of a healthy marine environment at its heart.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

Leaving the EU creates a sea of opportunity for our fishing industry. Outside the Common Fisheries Policy we can take back control of our waters and revitalise our coastal communities. We will be able to put in place our own systems, becoming a world leader in managing our resources while protecting the marine environment.

We will work closely with everyone who has an interest in this important industry to make the most of this historic opportunity.

Details at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-publish-plan-for-an-independent-fisheries-policy

EU Council meeting 28-29 June – Theresa May

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Theresa May delivered the following statement in Parliament on 02 July 2018 about the EU Council meeting:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-commons-statement-on-june-european-council-2-july-2018

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on last week’s European Council. The focus of this Council was on migration – and there were also important conclusions on security and defence. The UK made a substantive contribution to both. And our continued co-operation after we have left the EU will be in everyone’s interests, helping to ensure the long-term prosperity and security of the whole continent.

EU Council Meeting 28-29 June 2018 (Brexit)

An EU Council meeting was held on 28-29 June 2018 which focused on migration. Leaders also discussed security and defence, as well as economic and financial affairs.

As regards Brexit, the European Council (Art. 50), in an EU 27 format, reviewed the state of play of Brexit negotiations and adopted conclusions on progress made.

  • The European Council welcomed the further progress made on parts of the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement. However leaders highlighted that important aspects still need to be agreed.
  • EU27 leaders expressed their concern that no substantial progress had yet been achieved on agreeing a backstop solution for Ireland/Northern Ireland. They stressed the need for intensified efforts so that the Withdrawal Agreement, including its provisions on transition, can be concluded as soon as possible in order to come into effect on the date of withdrawal. Negotiations can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken so far are respected in full.
  • The European Council (Art. 50) stressed that work had to be accelerated with a view to preparing a political declaration on the framework for the future relationship. This requires further clarity as well as realistic and workable proposals from the UK as regards its position on the future relationship.
  • Finally, the European Council renewed its call upon member states, EU institutions and all stakeholders to step up their work on preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes.
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