On 21 May 2019, Theresa May delivered a speech on a new Brexit deal in light of discussions with the Labour party and the Cabinet. The speech focuses on compromises that will be included in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill when it comes for its second reading in Parliament (anticipated the week commencing 3 June). The speech is thus framed around a ’10-point offer’ to Parliament which is as follows:
• the Government will be legally bound to conclude alternative arrangements to replace the backstop by December 2020, so that it never needs to be used;
• should the backstop come into force, the Government will ensure that Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland – and the Government will prohibit the proposal that a future Government could split Northern Ireland off from the UK’s customs territory;
• the negotiating objectives and final treaties for the UK’s future relationship with the EU will have to be approved by MPs before the Government signs them;
• a new Workers’ Rights Bill that guarantees workers’ rights will be introduced to ensure workers’ rights in the UK are no less favourable than in the EU. Further amendments in this regard will be discussed with trade unions and businesses;
• there will be no change in the level of environmental protection after Brexit – an Office of Environmental Protection will be established to uphold environmental standards and enforce compliance;
• the UK will seek as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible while outside the single market and ending free movement;
• the UK will keep up to date with EU rules for goods and agri-food products that are relevant to checks at the border;
• the Government will bring forward a customs compromise for MPs to decide on to break the deadlock. Parliament will be able to vote on the Government’s existing trade policy as regards Brexit, and the proposed compromise of a temporary customs union with the EU on goods only (including a UK say in relevant EU trade policy);
• there will be a vote for MPs on whether the deal should be subject to a referendum, this must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified; and
• there will be a legal duty to secure changes to the political declaration to reflect this new deal, to ensure that MPs are not voting on the same documents as voted on previously.
The Prime Minister delivered a further statement to Parliament on 22 May 2019, our blog on which is here.