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PM Press Statement 14 December 2018

Theresa May made a Press Statement following a meeting of the EU Council on 14 December 2018.

“At this Council meeting, I have held a series of discussions with my fellow leaders on the Brexit deal and I was crystal clear about the assurances which are needed on the backstop having heard the views of MPs in the House of Commons.

I reiterated that it is in the interests of the EU as well as the UK to get this over the line. A disorderly Brexit would be good for no-one.

At 27 level, the EU have published a series of conclusions.

The EU made clear:

  • That it is their firm determination to work speedily on a future relationship or alternative arrangements which ensure no hard border by 31 December 2020 so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.
  • If the backstop was ever triggered, it would apply only temporarily and the EU would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop.
  • That the EU stands ready to embark on preparations so that negotiations on the future partnership can start as soon as possible.

As formal conclusions, these commitments have legal status and therefore should be welcomed.

As I have always said, the guaranteed way of avoiding the backstop is to have the future partnership in place by the time the implementation period is over. The EU is very firmly committed to this course.

But MPs will require further assurances, and I have discussed that this morning with my EU partners, including Presidents Tusk, Juncker and others.

I note there has been reporting that the EU is not willing to consider any further clarification. The EU is clear – as I am – that if we are going to leave with a deal this is it.

But my discussions with colleagues today have shown that further clarification and discussion following the Council’s conclusions is in fact possible.

There is work still to do and we will be holding talks in coming days about how to obtain the further assurances that the UK Parliament needs in order to be able to approve the deal.

I say again. It is in the overwhelming interest of all our people – in the EU and the UK – to get this done, and as quickly as possible.”

PM speech to CBI: 19 November 2018

Theresa May’s speech to the Confederation of British Industry on 19 November 2018.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-to-cbi-19-november-2018

Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be back with the CBI again. Let me start by thanking Carolyn for your leadership of the CBI as Director General. And also welcome John Allan, who has taken up his role as President since I last addressed you. I know John from his time on the Home Office Supervisory Board and I know he will make a fantastic contribution as President. There is one paramount issue facing our country at the moment, and I know it is the number one concern of the CBI, so let me get right to it.

Last week the Cabinet agreed the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. We also agreed a draft outline of the political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Both documents were the result of many hours of negotiation between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Together they represent a decisive breakthrough – but they are not the final deal. We now have an intense week of negotiations ahead of us in the run-up to the special European Council on Sunday. During that time I expect us to hammer out the full and final details of the framework that will underpin our future relationship and I am confident that we can strike a deal at the council that I can take back to the House of Commons. The core elements of that deal are already in place.

The Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed in full, subject of course to final agreement being reached on the future framework. That Agreement is a good one for the UK. It fulfils the wishes of the British people as expressed in the 2016 referendum. I have always had a very clear sense of the outcomes I wanted to deliver for people in these negotiations. Control over our borders, by bringing an end to free movement, once and for all. Control of our money, so we can decide for ourselves how to spend it, and can do so on priorities like the NHS. Control of our laws, by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom and ensuring that our laws are made and enforced here in this country. Getting us out of those EU programmes that do not work in our interests, like the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy. And that is exactly what we are going to deliver.

Let me say a little more about the first of those items – getting back full control of our borders – because I know that is an issue of great importance to the British people. The United Kingdom is a country that values the contribution that immigration has made to our society and economy over many years. And in the future, outside the EU, immigration will continue to make a positive contribution to our national life. But the difference will be this: once we have left the EU, we will be fully in control of who comes here. It will no longer be the case that EU nationals, regardless of the skills or experience they have to offer, can jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi. Instead of a system based on where a person is from, we will have one that is built around the talents and skills a person has to offer. Not only will this deliver on the verdict of the referendum. It should lead to greater opportunity for young people in this country to access training and skilled employment.

Statement by Michel Barnier – 19 November 2018

Press statement by Michel Barnier following the General Affairs Council (Article 50) meeting on 19 November 2018.

Statement by Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator for Article 50 negotiations at the press conference with Gernot Blümel, Austrian Federal Minister for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media after the General Affairs Council

Brussels, 19 November 2018

Opening statement by Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier

Good morning everyone. I hope you are all well after a very busy few days and also busy nights.

Thank you very much, Gernot, for your appreciation. Thank you also to the team of the Austrian Presidency. If I may, at a very key moment where we are in this negotiation, I want to thank the Council, the team of the Council, the Parliament also, and obviously Jean-Claude Juncker and all the services of the Commission for their trust and their cooperation.

I have just debriefed the Ministers of the EU27 on the agreement that we reached last week at negotiators’ level on the draft Withdrawal Agreement, as well as on the outline of the political declaration on the future relationship.

We are in fact at a decisive moment in this process. No one should lose sight of the progress that has been achieved in Brussels and in London.

I am pleased that Ministers today supported the overall package. In particular, Member States support the draft Withdrawal Agreement. On the EU side, we still need to determine the internal procedure of the Union for agreeing to extend the transition. But globally speaking, this deal is fair and balanced.

It takes into account the UK positions. In particular, we have found a compromise to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both sides, both parties want to avoid using the backstop.

Finally, this deal allows for the orderly withdrawal which is in our common interest. An orderly withdrawal is the condition to lay the ground for an ambitious partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have also informed Ministers of the state of play of the discussions on the framework for the future relationship. Discussions on that declaration are ongoing – now, today – with the UK negotiators. This is now our focus. The declaration will open the door to negotiations on an ambitious, economic and strategic partnership in the future once the UK will have left.

In any case, for the future relationship, both the EU and the UK will have full control of their own legislation and rule-making. This is essential, on our side, for the integrity of the single market. It is essential for the UK in terms of taking back control.

Now, more than ever, we must all remain calm – and I will remain calm – and keep our focus on the need for the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion.

Thank you very much.

EU General Affairs Council (Article 50) meeting on 19 November 2018

The Council, in an EU27 format, prepared for the special meeting of the European Council (Art. 50) scheduled for Sunday 25 November 2018.

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac-art50/2018/11/19/

In preparation for the summit, ministers exchanged views on the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement as presented and published by the negotiators on 14 November 2018. This text has been agreed by both sides, the EU and the UK, at the level of the negotiators.

The EU and the UK negotiators have reached a deal on all the aspects of the UK withdrawal, including securing the rights of citizens. Generally the result is a fair compromise. Both sides have moved towards each other. Break-ups are never easy, but it is always better when they happen in friendly terms. That is also the best way to build a good relationship for the future. We still want the UK as an essential partner in all fields for many years to come.

Gernot BLÜMEL, Federal Minister for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media of Austria

Ministers also commented on the outline for a political declaration on future EU-UK relations that was presented by the negotiators together with the draft withdrawal agreement on 14 November 2018. This outline serves as a basis for the final text of the political declaration that is currently being negotiated with the UK and that will accompany and be referred to in the withdrawal agreement.

EU27 leaders will meet to endorse the Brexit withdrawal agreement on Sunday 25 November 2018.

The summit was called by President Donald Tusk on 15 November 2018, after his meeting with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who presented to him the draft text as agreed with the UK at the level of the negotiators.

On Sunday 25 November 2018, EU27 leaders are expected to endorse the Brexit withdrawal agreement and to approve the political declaration on future EU-UK relations.

“If nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a European Council meeting, in order to finalise and formalise the Brexit agreement.”

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council

Dominic Raab Resigns – 15 November 2018

A number of resignations have taken place following the “collective agreement” of the Cabinet to accept the Draft of the Withdrawal Agreement on the 14 November 2018.

Dominic Rabb resigns from his post as Brexit Secretary.

It has been an honour to serve in your government as Justice Minister, Housing Minister and Brexit Secretary.

I regret to say that, following the Cabinet meeting yesterday on the Brexit deal, I must resign. I understand why you have chosen to pursue the deal with the EU on the terms proposed, and I respect the different views held in good faith by all of our colleagues.

For my part, I cannot support the proposed deal for two reasons. First, I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Second, I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit. The terms of the backstop amount to a hybrid of the EU Customs Union and Single Market obligations. No democratic nation ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime, imposed externally without any democratic control over the laws to be applied, nor the ability to decide to exit the arrangement. That arrangement is now also taken as the starting point for negotiating the Future Economic Partnership. If we accept that, it will severely prejudice the second phase of negotiations against the UK.

Above all, I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election. This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust.

I appreciate that you disagree with my judgment on these issues. I have weighed very carefully the alternative courses of action which the government could take, on which I have previously advised. Ultimately, you deserve a Brexit Secretary who can make the case for the deal you are pursuing with conviction. I am only sorry, in good conscience, that I cannot.

My respect for you, and the fortitude you have shown in difficult times, remains undimmed.

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