Brexit EU Press Release

Press statement about UK attendance at EU meetings

A Press Statement released by the Department for Exiting the European Union on 20 August 2019 stated that UK officials will stop attending most EU meetings from 1 September 2019.

UK officials will stop attending most EU meetings from 1 September so that they can focus on our future relationship with the EU and other partners around the world.

The Government has decided this week that from 1 September, UK officials and Ministers will now only attend EU meetings where the UK has a significant national interest in the outcome of discussions, such as on security.

This decision reflects the fact that the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 October is now very close and many of the discussions in EU meetings will be about the future of the Union after the UK has left.

As the PM has promised in the House of Commons in July, as a departing Member State it makes sense to “unshackle” officials from these EU meetings to enable them to better focus their talents on our immediate national priorities. This includes, as the top priority, work on preparations for Brexit on 31 October and on our future relationship with the EU, but also on pioneering new trade deals and promoting a truly Global Britain.

This decision is not intended in any way to frustrate the functioning of the EU. The UK’s vote will be delegated in a way that does not obstruct the ongoing business of the remaining 27 EU members.

Where matters of ongoing national interest are being discussed, the UK will continue to be present until 31 October.

Further details:

  • As a Member State the UK is allowed to send a representative to a variety of EU meetings. These representatives can be Government Ministers or officials.
  • The UK has decided that we do not need representation at all of these meetings, especially where the subject is the future of the EU after we have left.
  • The UK will continue to attend if and when it is in our interests, with particular regard to meetings on UK exit, sovereignty, international relations, security, or finance and the Prime Minister will attend European Council.
  • Decisions will be made on a case by case basis depending on the agendas of the meetings. This provides the right amount of flexibility to ensure UK interests remain protected.

Secretary of State Steve Barclay said:

An incredible amount of time and effort goes into EU meetings with attendance just the tip of the iceberg. Our diligent, world-class officials also spend many hours preparing for them whether in reading the necessary papers or working on briefings.

From now on we will only go to the meetings that really matter, reducing attendance by over half and saving hundreds of hours. This will free up time for Ministers and their officials to get on with preparing for our departure on October 31 and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead.

Brexit Negotiations Press Release

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.”

Press Release

PM G20 press statement: 1 December 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Press Statement at the G20 summit in Argentina.

I would like to start by offering a tribute to President George H.W Bush. Today we remember a great statesman and a true friend of Britain. We send our deepest condolences to the American people and to his family.

As we conclude this meeting of the G20 I would like to congratulate President Macri on Argentin’s Presidency and on the hosting of this summit.

As the first British Prime Minister to visit Buenos Aires I am grateful for the warmth of the welcome I have received. The visit marks an important milestone in the relationship between the UK and Argentina.

Yesterday President Macri and I held productive talks on the way forward in our partnership, including on trade and investment. We also welcomed the agreement on a new commercial air link between the Falklands and São Paulo via Córdoba, a move that shows what we can achieve when we work together.

The UK has always been clear about the importance of the G20 to international economic co-operation and the rules based order. The G20 brings together countries that collectively constitute 85 per cent of gross world product, two-thirds of the world’s population and around half of the world’s land area. It is a vital forum in which we can work together to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

And ten years on from the first G20 Leaders Meeting this has been a productive Summit. We have made strong commitments to work together on a range of areas including reform of the World Trade Organisation and making the global economy work for everyone. We also discussed other key priorities such as tackling climate change and promoting global health. And I welcome the commitments made on stepping up the fight against modern slavery.

Over the course of the Summit I have had a number of meetings with other world leaders.

As well as discussing bilateral relationships and regional and global security issues this Summit has given me the opportunity to update friends and partners on the agreement we have reached on our exit from the European Union — and I have set out how it represents a good deal for the global economy.

International firms that have invested in UK production or that use European bases to supply the UK market will benefit from the arrangements we have agreed.

And for the first time in more then four decades the UK will have an independent trade policy, playing an active role on the global stage as we take up our seat at the WTO in April 2019.

That this deal sets a path for the UK to a brighter future has been affirmed by the discussions I have had on trade over the past two days with friends and partners making clear that they are keen to sign and implement ambitious free trade agreements with us as soon as possible.

Thank you

Political Declaration Press Release Withdrawal Agreement

PM EU Council Press Statement, 25 November 2018

Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, released a press statement following the EU Council meeting held on the 25 November 2018.

Today marks the culmination of a long and difficult process of negotiation between the UK and the EU. There were those who said that reaching a Brexit agreement that worked for both sides was an impossible task.

From the start, I rejected that counsel of despair and set about negotiating a deal that worked for the UK and the EU – one that delivered on the result of the referendum and set us on course for a prosperous future while maintaining a close relationship with our friends and neighbours. Thanks to the hard work of both sets of negotiators, that is what we have today agreed.

I want to take a few moments to speak directly to the British people and explain what this deal means.

First, control of our borders. Not an emergency brake on free movement or a promise of greater transition controls in the future – but an end to the free movement of people, in full, once and for all. That is what this deal delivers. It will allow us to put in place an immigration system based not on where people come from but on the skills and talents they have to offer. That is in our national interest.

Second, control of our money. Not a reduction in our membership fee, not a bigger budget rebate – but an end to vast annual payments being sent to the EU. That is what this deal delivers. Instead, we will be able to spend taxpayers’ money on our priorities, like the £394 million per week of extra investment we are putting into our NHS. That is in our national interest.

Third, control over our laws. Not just the return of some areas of control from Brussels – but an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK, with our laws being made in our country by democratically elected politicians, interpreted and enforced by British courts. That is what this deal delivers and that is in our national interest.

In agriculture, it does not just deliver a better deal under the Common Agricultural Policy, it takes us out of the CAP completely, meaning we can design new systems of support for farmers that work for the UK.

And in fishing, it does not just deliver a bigger annual quota within the Common Fisheries Policy, it sets us free of the CFP for good and forever. The UK will be an independent coastal state once again, in full sovereign control of our waters, able to decide for ourselves who we allow to fish in them, with that access not tied to any other aspect of our economic partnership. That is in our national interest too.

On borders, laws and money – this deal delivers for the British people.

But I have been just as determined that as well as taking back control, this should be a deal that protects the things we value in our relationship with our European friends and sets us on course for a future of opportunity and prosperity and this deal does that too.

So if your family’s livelihood depends on a skilled job in our manufacturing sector, you need a deal that keeps goods flowing easily across borders and keeps supply chains intact. This deal does that. We will be outside the single market and the customs union but have an economic partnership with the EU closer than any other country enjoys. Good for business and in our national interest.

If you are one of the over 3 million EU citizens who has come and built your life in the UK – come to be our colleagues, our neighbours and our friends – you need a deal that guarantees your rights. If you are one of the almost 1 million UK nationals living elsewhere in the EU, you need the same. This deal delivers for you all.

And because each one of us is made safer by the close security co-operation between the UK and the EU, we all need a deal that keeps that close partnership intact and this deal does that too.

As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom I have felt very keenly my responsibility to deliver a deal that works for the whole UK and for all of its parts. So what we have agreed protects the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom. We rejected proposals which would have compromised that integrity and insisted on keeping all parts of our UK in a single customs territory – this deal delivers that. It also honours the solemn commitment we made to the people of Northern Ireland that there should be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

This deal will safeguard the hard-won progress of the last twenty years and allow the people of that part of our United Kingdom to carry on living their lives as they do today. This is a deal that works for the whole UK family – including our Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies.

On Gibraltar, we have worked constructively with Spain throughout this process and I want to thank Fabian Picardo for the statesmanlike role he has played. We have ensured that Gibraltar is covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and by the Implementation Period. Let no-one be in any doubt: for the future partnership the UK will be negotiating for the whole UK family, including Gibraltar. I am proud that Gibraltar is British and its constitutional status will not change.

The deal we have agreed today unlocks a bright future for the UK. Outside the EU we will be able to strike new trade deals around the world and open up new markets in the world’s fastest growing economies.

We will be able to focus our energies on the many other important issues that matter to the British people at home. Creating more good jobs and spreading prosperity more widely, taking care of our public services like the NHS and schools, building more homes, and tackling the social injustices that prevent too many people fulfilling their potential.

In any negotiation, you do not get everything you want. You need to identify what your vital interests are and stick to them, but be prepared to compromise in other areas in order to achieve a result. I think the British people understand that. When they look at this deal they will see it is a good one for our country and that it is in the national interest for everyone to get behind it.

It honours the referendum, protects what we value and sets us on course for a bright future.

Today marks the culmination of our exit negotiations with the EU – but it also marks the start of a crucial national debate in our country over the next few weeks. Before Christmas, MPs will vote on this deal. It will be one of the most significant votes that Parliament has held for many years. On it will depend whether we move forward together into a brighter future or open the door to yet more division and uncertainty.

The British people don’t want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit. They want a good deal done that fulfils the vote and allows us to come together again as a country.

So I will take this deal back to the House of Commons confident we have achieved the best deal available and full of optimism about the future of our country. In Parliament and beyond it, I will make the case for this deal with all my heart and I look forward to that campaign.

Brexit Negotiations EU Press Release Withdrawal Agreement

EU Response to Cabinet Meeting – 14 November 2018

Following the Cabinet meeting to discuss the draft Withdrawal Agreement the European Commission released the following statement which recommends to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in Brexit negotiations.

Brussels, 14 November 2018

The negotiators of the European Commission and the United Kingdom have today reached a deal on the terms of the Article 50 Withdrawal Agreement.

All aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement have now been finalised and agreed at negotiator level. This agreement marks a decisive moment in the negotiations. The European Commission therefore recommended to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in the negotiations on the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, allowing the negotiations on the withdrawal agreement to be concluded and the next step of the process to be initiated. The negotiators have also agreed on an outline of the political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship.

The Withdrawal Agreement covers all elements of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU: citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, a transition period, governance, Protocols on Ireland, Gibraltar and Cyprus, as well as a range of other separation issues.

The EU and the UK negotiators have agreed on how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Both will use their best endeavours to have a future agreement concluded before the end of the transition period by 1 July 2020. Should this not be the case, the EU and the UK could jointly extend the transition period. Alternatively, as of January 2021, the backstop solution for Ireland and Northern Ireland would apply, subject to a joint review mechanism.

That backstop solution means that a single EU-UK customs territory will be established, which will apply from the end of the transition period until such a time as a subsequent agreement becomes applicable. Northern Ireland will therefore remain part of the same customs territory as the rest of the UK. The single customs territory covers all goods with the exception of fishery and aquaculture products.

The creation of the single customs territory includes the corresponding level playing field commitments and appropriate enforcement mechanisms to ensure fair competition between the EU27 and the UK.

The outline of the political declaration published today records the progress in reaching an overall understanding on the framework for the future EU-UK relationship. The EU and UK negotiators will continue their work based on the outline.

Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The present Withdrawal Agreement – including the transition period – must take into account the framework of the future relationship. The political declaration must therefore be further developed and agreed in its final form.

In parallel, the European Commission will continue its preparedness and contingency work for all eventualities.

Next steps

The EU and UK negotiators will continue their work on the political declaration on the framework for the future relationship based on the outline published today. It is up to the President of the European Council to decide whether and when to convene a meeting of the 27 Heads of State or Government. It will be up to the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the Withdrawal Agreement and the joint political declaration on the framework of the future relationship.

Once the Withdrawal Agreement is endorsed by the European Council (Article 50), and before it can enter into force, it needs to be ratified by the EU and the UK. For the EU, the Council of the European Union must authorise the signature of the Withdrawal Agreement, before sending it to the European Parliament for its consent. The United Kingdom must ratify the agreement according to its own constitutional arrangements.


Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on 29 March 2017 (read more here). Her letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, formally began the process of UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Negotiations on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal formally began on 19 June 2017, following the UK’s general election. On 8 December 2017, the EU and the UK published a Joint Report, setting out the areas of agreement between both sides on withdrawal issues. This was accompanied by a Communication by the European Commission. In March 2018, the European Commission and the United Kingdom published a draft Withdrawal Agreement. This document highlighted areas of agreement and disagreement using a green, yellow and white colour-coding. The future relationship between the EU and the UK will be outlined in a political declaration and will only be negotiated once the UK becomes a third country, i.e. outside of the EU, after 29 March 2019.

Further Information

Questions & Answers: Brexit Negotiations: What is in the Withdrawal Agreement

Questions & Answers: Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland