Withdrawal Agreement

PM speech in Belfast: 5 February 2019

Here is the speech Prime Minister Theresa May gave in Belfast on 5 February 2019.

I’m pleased to be back in Belfast today, with under 8 weeks to go until the UK leaves the EU I recognise that this is a crucial time for Northern Ireland. And ensuring that the unique needs of this part of the UK are met has been one of my chief priorities ever since I became Prime Minister.

Any border that weaves its way through farms and villages, bisects hundreds of roads and lanes, and which is crossed and re-crossed by thousands of people every day would pose a logistical challenge in the context of Brexit. But when you add to those geographical factors Northern Ireland’s complex history, the different traditions and identities that make up its community, and the long path to peace that the people of Northern Ireland have walked over the last forty years, the challenge is even greater.

Over the last two and half years, we have come a long way towards a solution that works for Northern Ireland and Ireland. We have agreed mutual protections for citizens’ rights, the maintenance of our common travel area, and set a framework for our future relationship that ensures tariff and quota-free trade and protects our close co-operation on security and law enforcement. But the UK Parliament rejected the Withdrawal Agreement because of their concerns about the backstop, the legal protocol to prevent no hard border in the event our future relationship is not in place at the end of the implementation period.

Brexit Negotiations Speech Withdrawal Agreement

Michel Barnier Speech 10 October 2018

A speech by Michel Barnier at the closing session of Eurochambre’s European Parliament of Enterprises 2018 given on 10 Oct 2018. Given in French and English

Read the speech, as presented, at

Brexit Brexit Negotiations Government

PM Mansion House Speech 2 March 2018

Today, 2 March 2018, at the Mansion House in London, Prime Minister Theresa May made a speech on the future economic partnership between the UK and the EU.

(Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)

I am grateful to the Lord Mayor and all his team at the Mansion House for hosting us this afternoon.

And in the midst of the bad weather, I would just like to take a moment before I begin my speech today to thank everyone in our country who is going the extra mile to help people at this time. I think of our emergency services and armed forces working to keep people safe; our NHS staff, care workers, and all those keeping our public services going; and the many volunteers who are giving their time to help those in need. Your contribution is a special part of who we are as a country – and it is all the more appreciated at a moment like this.

Five tests
Now I am here today to set out my vision for the future economic partnership between the United Kingdom and the European Union. There have been many different voices and views in the debate on what our new relationship with the EU should look like. I have listened carefully to them all. But as we chart our way forward with the EU, I want to take a moment to look back.

Eighteen months ago I stood in Downing Street and addressed the nation for my first time as Prime Minister. I made this pledge then, to the people that I serve:

I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle.

The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.

We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives.

When we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you.

When we pass new laws, we’ll listen not to the mighty but to you.

When it comes to taxes, we’ll prioritise not the wealthy, but you.

When it comes to opportunity, we won’t entrench the advantages of the fortunate few.

We will do everything we can to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you.

We are living through an important moment in our country’s history. As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.

That pledge, to the people of our United Kingdom is what guides me in our negotiations with the EU.

And for me that means five things:

First, the agreement we reach with the EU must respect the referendum. It was a vote to take control of our borders, laws and money. And a vote for wider change, so that no community in Britain would ever be left behind again. But it was not a vote for a distant relationship with our neighbours.

Second, the new agreement we reach with the EU must endure. After Brexit both the UK and the EU want to forge ahead with building a better future for our people, not find ourselves back at the negotiating table because things have broken down.

Third, it must protect people’s jobs and security. People in the UK voted for our country to have a new and different relationship with Europe, but while the means may change our shared goals surely have not – to work together to grow our economies and keep our people safe.

Fourth, it must be consistent with the kind of country we want to be as we leave: a modern, open, outward-looking, tolerant, European democracy. A nation of pioneers, innovators, explorers and creators. A country that celebrates our history and diversity, confident of our place in the world; that meets its obligations to our near neighbours and far off friends, and is proud to stand up for its values.

And fifth, in doing all of these things, it must strengthen our union of nations and our union of people.

We must bring our country back together, taking into account the views of everyone who cares about this issue, from both sides of the debate. As Prime Minister it is my duty to represent all of our United Kingdom, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; north and south, from coastal towns and rural villages to our great cities.

So these are the five tests for the deal that we will negotiate.

  • Implementing the decision of the British people
  • reaching an enduring solution
  • protecting our security and prosperity
  • delivering an outcome that is consistent with the kind of country we want to be
  • bringing our country together, strengthening the precious union of all our people.
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    Brexit Brexit Negotiations

    Statement by Michel Barnier 27 February 2018

    Michel Barnier made a statement regarding Brexit, in French, at a Press Conference following an EU General Affairs Council meeting on 27 February 2018.

    In the lack of the provision of this statement in any other language, my interpretation of the speech is as follows:

    In his statement, Barnier mentions that he is concerned that “the clock is ticking” and that there is little time left for negotiations with the UK between now and Autumn 2018, when the EU requires talks to have completed.

    He announced that their draft text of a treaty for the Withdrawal Agreement will be released on 28 February 2018 ready for discussion with the remaining 27 member states and EU Parliament before being presented to the UK. The document consists of 120 pages containing 168 specific articles and will represent the Legal form of the commitments agreed to with the UK in December 2017.

    The document in addition to the topics of Citizens Rights, Financial demands and Ireland will also cover the EU positions on other issues regarding the withdrawal.

    Details for the Transition (Implementation) period are included in the Draft document and Barnier mentioned that there are still important differences of opinion with the UK regarding what is meant by the Transition (Implementation) period:

    • The EU proposes that it end on 31 December 2020 while the UK wants a longer period – which is not possible.
    • The EU wants to continue freedom of movement of Citizens during the Transition (Implementation) period whereas the UK wants the cut-off date to be the date of withdrawal
    • There remain differences regarding
      • The opt-in option for Justice and Home affairs
      • The ability for the UK to conclude International Trade agreements
      • The participation of the UK in committees of experts
      • Consultation mechanisms during the Transition (Implementation) period regarding Fisheries and Foreign and Defence policy.

    Currently, given these differences between the EU and the UK, the Transition (Implementation) period has yet to be agreed. Barnier states his readiness to discuss and negotiate these details with David Davis.

    His final comments related to the future relationship between the EU and the UK and he mentioned that the EU had held numerous internal seminars with the remaining 27 member states and the EU Parliament covering topics such as Aviation, Fisheries, Security, Defence and Foreign Policy.

    These seminars were used to emphasise the principles of the European Identity, the integrity of the internal market and the four freedoms which are non-negotiable as far as the EU 27 are concerned and Barnier will negotiate with the UK on that basis.


    Britain’s Trading Future – Liam Fox 27 Feb 2018

    Continuing the trend for Cabinet Ministers making speeches about Brexit, Dr Liam Fox made a speech in London which outlines the Government’s vision for the UK’s commercial future, and our leadership role in the global economy.

    Thank you Constantin for the introduction. And thank you to Bloomberg for hosting us in these wonderful surroundings. It is a pleasure to be here today to talk about Britain’s trading future.

    The historic decision by the British people to leave the European Union has presented this country with a number of choices about its future global direction. It has generated a great deal of soul-searching and caused a number of important questions to be aired. Some of these relate specifically to the referendum decision itself, others are questions which needed to be addressed anyway but have been brought into sharper focus by that decision.

    Where do we see our place in the world?

    What sort of economy and what sort of country do we want to be?

    What should our influence be in global affairs and global trade?

    How will we generate the income we will need to ensure a prosperous and secure future for the generations that come after us?

    Since the referendum vote and the creation of the Department for International Trade, my ministerial team and I have undertaken over 150 overseas visits, to all parts of the globe, to old friends and new allies alike and to markets large and small. From across the world, the keenness to deepen trade and investment ties with this country and once again hear us champion the case for free trade, is palpable.

    And why should that surprise us?

    The United Kingdom is one of the world’s largest and most successful economies. We are at record levels of employment. Our success is underpinned by a legal system whose reputation is second to none. We have a skilled workforce and a low tax and a well-regulated economy. We are home to some of the world’s finest universities, our research and development capabilities are cutting-edge and our financial institutions world-leading. We are in the right time zone to trade with Asia in the morning and the United States in the afternoon, and, of course, we speak English, the language of global business.