(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Theresa May has published her long-awaited proposal for the future relationship between the U.K. and the EU, setting out proposals for a softer Brexit than she first planned. Tory euroskeptics are furious that the plan doesn’t deliver their vision of a clean split from the EU.
EU’s Barnier Gives Muted Response (1:36 p.m.)
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who will be meeting Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab next week, gave no immediate view on the merits of the British plan. “We will now analyse the Brexit White Paper” with other EU member states, he said on Twitter.
The EU’s offer is for an “ambitious” free-trade deal, plus joint working on other issues, including security, he added. “Looking forward to negotiations with the U.K. next week.”
The EU hasn’t thrown out May’s plan on Day One -- but it’s not a particularly encouraging message.
Rees-Mogg Won’t Support Government Plans (1:25 p.m.)
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the de facto leader of pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers, said he would not vote for the government’s plans because they don’t respect the wishes of the British people.
“This is the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Phillip II at Le Goulet in 1200,’’ Rees-Mogg said in a statement. “There are very few signs of the prime minister’s famous red lines.
Rees-Mogg said the white paper would make Britain subject to EU laws with no say in their creation. The fact that the U.K. is seeking to collect and hand over EU taxes “is an unwarranted intrusion into the control of our border,” he said.
“It is not be something I would vote for, nor is it what the British people voted for.”
Meanwhile pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Marcus Fysh tells Bloomberg: “This white paper is beyond pathetic -- it’s not even WTO-rule compliant. What a load of garbage.”
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith also attack the proposals. “Having voted to leave, I don’t want to half-leave,” he said.
Raab: EU Must Respond to U.K. ‘Good Will’ in Kind (13:15 p.m)
In the House of Commons, the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab says the EU should show the same spirit of “friendship” that Britain is demonstrating in its approach to Brexit. But if the bloc fails to do so, the U.K. will be ready to leave without a deal, he warned.
Speaker Suspends Sitting and Complains to Raab (12:56 p.m.)
In the House of Commons, where Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was supposed to be announcing the policy, the sitting had to be suspended for five minutes after complaints that members of parliament hadn’t got copies of the document. In extraordinary scenes, members ran out when they heard that it was available, and then came running back in carrying boxes of the document, and handing them out to colleagues while Raab was trying to speak.
John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, was clearly irritated, telling Raab it’s a source of “considerable unhappiness” that MPs didn’t get sight of the proposals sooner.
It’s a sign of trouble to come that Raab doesn’t seem to have much support in the chamber. Parts of his speech that he might have hoped would raise cheers from Tories behind him - on leaving the EU’s customs union and single market - were heard in silence.
May Unveils Soft Brexit Plan, But Banks Cut Loose (12:48 p.m.)
Theresa May released the most contentious document of her two-year premiership on Thursday, vowing to push through her plan to keep the U.K. closely tied to the European Union single market after Brexit.
Despite the resignation of two pro-Brexit Cabinet ministers and a growing rebellion from within her own party, May published a 98-page “white paper” setting out in detail the deep trading partnership the U.K. wants with the EU.
At its heart is a proposal for a new U.K.-EU “free trade area,” with interlinked customs regimes, and identical regulations for industrial goods and agri-food. While there would be “no tariffs on any goods,” the U.K.’s vast services sector will suffer significant disruption. Banks in particular will lose their current access to the EU market, as the government gives up on its earlier plan for both sides to recognize each other’s regulations.
U.K. Calls on EU to Keep on Sharing Cyber Security and Data
May faces a huge task trying to persuade EU negotiators to accept that the proposals are viable, while also keeping her Conservative party and Parliament on side. Time is running out to reach an exit agreement by the self-imposed October deadline, and May’s plan has nothing new about the critical issue that’s holding up progress: avoiding customs checks at the border with Ireland.
Even U.S. President Donald Trump took a view. Hours before he is due to touch down in the U.K., he lobbed a verbal hand grenade at his host, saying May isn’t giving voters the Brexit deal they wanted.
“I would say Brexit is Brexit,” Trump said Thursday at a news conference at the NATO summit in Brussels. “The people voted to break it up so I would imagine that’s what they would do, but maybe they’re taking a different route -- I don’t know if that is what they voted for.”
May appealed to European negotiators to “engage” with her blueprint in the same spirit of respect that she said her government was taking toward the EU’s own principles and red lines.
U.K.’s May Drops Call for Easy Access by Banks to EU’s Markets
“Our proposal is comprehensive. It is ambitious. And it strikes the balance we need -- between rights and obligations,” May wrote in the foreword to the white paper. “It would deliver a principled and practical Brexit that is in our national interest, and the U.K.’s and the EU’s mutual interest.”
The U.K. has also set out a complicated structure for supervision of the new relationship that would allow the two sides to discuss rule tweaks and include a mechanism for solving disputes.
The British prime minister, European leaders and ministers would establish a “governing body” to set the direction of the future relationship, while a joint committee of officials would provide the day-to-day running of the agreement.
Crucially, in a move that could anger Brexiteers, if there’s a dispute over the interpretation of EU rules that the U.K. has agreed to adhere to, the European Court of Justice could have the final say.
--With assistance from Alex Morales and Tim Ross.
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