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EU preparations for Brexit – Press Release 19 July 2018

Brexit: European Commission publishes Communication on preparing for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, 19 July 2018.

Press Release

Brussels, 19 July 2018

The European Commission has today adopted a Communication outlining the ongoing work on the preparation for all outcomes of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

On 30 March 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the EU and become a third country. This will have repercussions for citizens, businesses and administrations in both the United Kingdom and the EU. These repercussions range from new controls at the EU’s outer border with the UK, to the validity of UK-issued licences, certificates and authorisations and to different rules for data transfers.

Today’s text calls on Member States and private parties to step up preparations and follows a request by the European Council (Article 50) last month to intensify preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes.

While the EU is working day and night for a deal ensuring an orderly withdrawal, the UK’s withdrawal will undoubtedly cause disruption – for example in business supply chains – whether or not there is a deal. As there is still no certainty that there will be a ratified withdrawal agreement in place on that date, or what it will entail, preparations have been ongoing to try to ensure that the EU institutions, Member States and private parties are prepared for the UK’s withdrawal. And in any event, even if an agreement is reached, the UK will no longer be a Member State after withdrawal and will no longer enjoy the same benefits as a member. Therefore, preparing for the UK becoming a third country is of paramount importance, even in the case of a deal between the EU and the UK.

Having said that, preparing for the UK’s withdrawal is not only the responsibility of the EU institutions. It is a joint effort at EU, national and regional levels, and also includes in particular economic operators and other private parties – everyone must now step up preparations for all scenarios and take responsibility for their specific situation.

Mutiny in the Ranks

Following the Olly Robbins Theresa May plan agreed at Chequers, there have been rumours of an attempt to remove Theresa May as PM

It remains unclear whether the number of Conservative MPs (48) required to force a no-confidence vote in May will be found and even then whether the vote would be successful when more than half of the party’s MPs (316) would be needed.

Arguments within the Tory party spilled over into amendments and votes on the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill on 16 July 2018 and the Trade Bill on 17 July 2018. However, the Government succeeded in getting both Bills through their 3rd Reading Stage.

Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill

Debate on the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill continued on 16 July

Bill stages — Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017-19

Brexit supporting Conservative MPs submitted four amendments to the Government’s Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill. These amendments were all accepted by the Government which angered MPs from the Remainer rebels who voted against the Government.

One amendment called for the UK to refuse to collect duties for the EU unless member states do likewise (New Clause 36)

This went to a vote with 305 votes for and 302 against – with 14 Tory rebels voting against the Government.

Another amendment required the UK to have an independent regime for VAT.

This also went to a vote with 303 votes for and 300 against – with 11 Tory rebels voting against the Government.

The other amendments accepted by the Government were to agree to a commitment to never having a border in the Irish sea and to require the Government to draw up primary legislation if the UK wants to remain in the EU customs union.

The Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) finally passed its 3rd Reading in the House of Commons by 318 in favour to 285 against on the 16 July 2018

3rd reading: House of Commons 16 July, 2018


Debate on the Trade Bill continued on 17 July and Tory rebels supported an amendment in favour of creating a customs union with the EU, which was subsequently defeated.

Bill stages — Trade Bill 2017-19

New Clause 17

This new clause would ensure that it is a negotiating objective for the UK Government to secure an international agreement through which the UK may continue to participate in the European medicines regulatory network partnership between the EU, EEA and the European Medicines Agency, ensuring that patients continue to have access to high-quality, effective and safe pharmaceutical and medical products, fully aligned with the member states of the EU and EEA.

The Government lost the vote on this amendment, tabled by the Tory MP Philip Lee.

The vote was

305 votes in favour to 301 against.

New clause 18

This new clause would make it a negotiating objective of the UK to establish a free trade area for goods between the UK and the EU and if that cannot be agreed then it should be the objective of the UK to secure an agreement to enable the UK’s participation in a customs union with the EU.

The vote was

301 in favour with 307 votes against

The Trade Bill passed its 3rd Reading in the House of Commons by 317 in favour to 286 against on the 17 July 2018

3rd reading: House of Commons 17 July, 2018


3 Labour Pro-Brexit MPs rebelled against their party by voting with the Government were

Frank Field
Kate Hoey
Graham Stringer

The Pro-EU Conservative rebel MPs were:

Heidi Allen
Guto Bebb
Richard Benyon
Jonathan Djanogly
Dominic Grieve
Stephen Hammond
Philip Lee
Nicky Morgan
Robert Neill
Mark Pawsey
Antoinette Sandbach
Anna Soubry
Sarah Wollaston

Boris Johnson – Personal Statement 18 July 2018

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Following his resignation as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson made a personal statement to Parliament on 18 July 2018.

Here is a copy of his speech in full:

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting me this opportunity, first to pay tribute to the men and women of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who have done an outstanding job over the last two years. I am very proud that we have rallied the world against Russia’s barbaric use of chemical weapons, with an unprecedented 28 countries joining together to expel 153 spies in protest at what happened in Salisbury.

We have rejuvenated the Commonwealth with a superb summit that saw Zimbabwe back on the path to membership and Angola now wanting to join. As I leave, we are leading global campaigns against the illegal wildlife trade and in favour of 12 years of quality education for every girl, and we have the Union flag going up in nine new missions in the Pacific, the Caribbean and Africa, and more to come. We have overtaken France to boast the biggest diplomatic network of any European country.

None of this would have been possible without the support of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Everyone who has worked with her will recognise her courage and resilience, and it was my privilege to collaborate with her in promoting global Britain, a vision for this country that she set out with great clarity at Lancaster House on 17 January last year: a country eager, as she said, not just to do a bold, ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, out of the customs union and out of the single market, but to do new free trade deals around the world. I thought that was the right vision then; I think so today.

But in the 18 months that have followed, it is as though a fog of self-doubt has descended. Even though our friends and partners liked the Lancaster House vision-it was what they were expecting from an ambitious partner, what they understood-and even though the commentators and the markets liked it-the pound soared, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will have observed-we never actually turned that vision into a negotiating position in Brussels.

Theresa May Press conference with Donald Trump

Prime Minister Theresa May held a press conference with US President Donald Trump on 13 July 2018, during his official visit to the UK.

I am pleased to welcome the President of the United States to Chequers today on his first official visit to the United Kingdom. No two countries do more together than ours to keep their peoples safe and prosperous. And we want to deepen that co-operation even further to meet the shared challenges we face, now and in the years ahead.

This morning President Trump and I visited Sandhurst, where we saw a demonstration of joint-working between British and American Special Forces – just one example of what is today the broadest, deepest and most advanced security co-operation of any two countries in the world. Whether it is our pilots deterring the use of chemical weapons in Syria or defeating Daesh, our soldiers at the forefront of NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe, our navies in the Pacific enforcing sanctions on North Korea, or our unparalleled intelligence-sharing partnership thwarting attacks – our security co-operation is saving lives here in Britain, in America and right across the world.

That partnership is set to grow, with our armies integrating to a level unmatched anywhere, and the UK set to spend £24 billion on US equipment and support over the next decade.

Today we have also discussed how we can deepen our work together to respond to malign state activity, terrorism and serious crime. In particular, on Russia, I thanked President Trump for his support in responding to the appalling use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, after which he expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers. And I welcomed his meeting with President Putin in Helsinki on Monday. We agreed that it is important to engage Russia from a position of strength and unity – and that we should continue to deter and counter all efforts to undermine our democracies.

Turning to our economic co-operation, with mutual investment between us already over $1 trillion, we want to go further. We agreed today, that as the UK leaves the European Union, we will pursue an ambitious US-UK Free Trade Agreement.

The Chequers agreement reached last week provides the platform for Donald and me to agree an ambitious deal that works for both countries right across our economies. A deal that builds on the UK’s independent trade policy; reducing tariffs, delivering a gold-standard in financial services co-operation, and – as two of the world’s most advanced economies – seizing the opportunity of new technology. All of this will further enhance our economic co-operation, creating new jobs and prosperity for our peoples for generations to come.

The UK-US relationship is also defined by the role we play on the world stage. Doing this means making tough calls and sometimes being prepared to say things that others might rather not hear. From the outset President Trump has been clear about how he sees the challenges we face. And on many, we agree.

For example, the need to deal with the long-standing nuclear threat of DPRK, where the agreement in Singapore has set in train the prospect of denuclearisation, to which the UK is proud to be contributing expertise. Or the need to address the destabilising influence of Iran in the Middle East, where today we have discussed what more we can do to push back on Iran in Yemen and reduce humanitarian suffering. Or the need for NATO allies to increase their defence spending and capability, on which we saw significant increases at yesterday’s summit. This includes Afghanistan, where this week I announced a further uplift of 440 UK troops – an ongoing commitment to a mission that began as NATO’s only use of Article 5, acting in support of the US.

Finally, let me say this about the wider transatlantic relationship.

It is all of our responsibility to ensure that transatlantic unity endures. For it has been fundamental to the protection and projection of our interests and values for generations. With US leadership at its foundation, its beating heart remains our democratic values and our commitment to justice. Those values are something that we in the UK will always cherish – as I know the US will too. It is the strength of these values, and the common interests they create, that we see across the breadth of our societies in North America and Europe. And that is why I am confident that this transatlantic alliance will continue to be the bedrock of our shared security and prosperity for years to come.

The future relationship between the UK and the EU – White Paper

The long-awaited White Paper on the Future Relationship between the UK and the EU, has been published (12 July 2018). This follows on from the contents being agreed (unanimously) by the Cabinet at the recent meeting at Chequers. The document has more than 104 pages.


The newly appointed Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, is making a statement to the House of Commons about the Brexit White Paper. The statement was interrupted and the House of Commons suspended while MPs were given copies of the white paper. John Bercow, however, rejected a further request to suspend the sitting so that MPs could have time to read the White Paper.

(in case you don’t know who Domininc Raab is …)


Here’s the statement:

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement about the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.

Let me start by paying tribute to my Right Honourable Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden, and his Herculean efforts along with my Honourable Friend the Member for Wycombe and the wider Dexeu team, to get us to this point in both the negotiations and the successful passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill. It is a striking achievement.

My Right Honourable Friend is a loss to Government, but I suspect, with the mildest apprehension, a considerable gain to this House.

Shortly, we will publish the Government’s White Paper on the UKs Future Relationship with the European Union. It is a new and detailed proposal for a principled, pragmatic and ambitious future partnership between the UK and the EU, in line with the policy agreed at Chequers last week.

I am placing a copy of the White Paper in the Libraries of both Houses, but let me briefly set out the key proposals. Mr Speaker, the Government is determined to build a new relationship that works for both the UK and the EU, one grounded in our shared history, but which looks to a bright and ambitious future. A relationship that delivers real and lasting benefit to both sides.

First, Mr Speaker the White Paper confirms that the UK will leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, forging a new way in the world – outside the Single Market, outside the Customs Union. It safeguards the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK. It reclaims the UK’s sovereignty. and it protects our economic interests, by minimising the risk of disruption to trade.