Brexit: What happens next?
On the 23rd of June the UK voted by 52% to 48% to withdraw from the European Union. On a turnout on 72%, higher than any General Election since 1992, there was a majority of 1,265,901.
This section on my website will be regularly updated on progress and answers to common queries.
How will Britain leave the EU?
Britain will leave the European Union by enacting Article 50 at the end of March 2017 in order for Britain to leave in March 2019.
Before 2019, the government will also enact a Great Repeal Bill, which will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and give Parliament the power to absorb parts of EU legislation into law while scrapping the parts Parliament does not want to keep once we leave the EU.
Parliament and the Vote
As Parliament is always sovereign, referenda are only ever advisory – no result is legally binding. As such, many who disagreed with the outcome of the vote signed a petition trying to either overturn the vote or call for another referendum.
There is a legal case going forward on the 13th and 17th October which argues that it is unlawful for the Government to trigger Article 50 without an Act of Parliament. While the case is ongoing, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union believes the case should be dismissed.
I do believe there is a duty to respect the outcome of the referendum. The British people voted by a margin of more than a million people to exit the EU and the focus should now be on how to carry out their instructions in the most constructive way possible.
What will the Government do during negotiations?
Theresa May has stated that the Government is not going to provide a running commentary on every twist and turn of these negotiations. Nevertheless, there are clear principles from which the Government is starting the process.
The UK's chief negotiator will be David Davis, Secretary of State at the newly created Department for Exiting the European Union. Davis will be supported David Jones and Robin Walker, both of whom have been involved in a range of Parliamentary groups promoting international trade.
Both David Davis, as well as the Prime Minister, confirmed that Article 50 will not be triggered until March 2017. This owes largely to the scale and complexity of the negotiations and the importance of clarifying what we want to achieve during the negotiations rather than rushing the process of withdrawal.
What will Parliament do during the negotiations?
The Great Repeal Act will involve a process which the House of Lords European Union Committee has described as "domestic disentanglement from EU law". Parliament will have an important role to play in reviewing, repealing, amending and replacing legislation. This will be a complex and time-consumingactivity, but is an important part of Brexit.
Moreover, there are plans for a new 21 MP strong select committee to scrutinise the Department for Exiting the European Union and the government's general Brexit strategy. In a recent debate the government has made it clear that Parliament has a role in debating the issues that should be considered by the negotiating team and for its voice to be heard on behalf of constituents.
What will the EU do during the negotiations?
According to EU rules, individual member states are not able to negotiate trade details independently of the whole EU.
The 27 member states will be represented by the European Commission, lead Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, and chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
Once a draft deal has been agreed, it will be put to the European Council, which is composed of the heads of each of the EU's member governments. It will need to be approved by at least 20 countries, which must represent at least 65% of the EU's population. The deal will then be put before elected MEPs in the European Parliament to be ratified. If a deal is not agreed, the negotiating period can be extended, but only if all 27 countries agree.
Who is negotiating for Britain after Brexit?
The key negotiator for Britain with the European Union is David Davis. As the Minister of State for Europe in John Major's government from 1994 to 1997, Davis shaped Britain's early relationship with a developing EU. Davis then became a prominent Shadow Cabinet Minister, most notably the Home Secretary from 2003 to 2008, before returning to the back bench. In 2016 he was appointed by Theresa May to the new role of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
Liam Fox is in charge of negotiating for Britain after Brexit with non-European Union states. Fox began his career as a GP and Civilian Army Medical Officer before becoming an MP. Fox has served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1996 to 1997. In the role he brokered a roadmap for peace in Sri Lanka, in what has been dubbed 'the Fox Peace Plan'. Liam Fox moreover served as Secretary of State for Defence from 2010 to 2011, where He focussed on bringing the Ministry of Defence's spending under control. He was appointed as President of the Board of Tradeand became the first Secretary of State for International Trade. Liam has also been a powerful advocate for the Southwest in his role as a prominent Westcountry MP.
Finally, Boris Johnson, previously the Mayor of London, has been appointed Foreign Secretary for Britain. He spent almost a decade working as Mayor of London and fifteen years as a journalist. He has a specific focus in his role on intelligence policy and cyber-security, and has overall responsibility for the work of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
The main issues surrounding Brexit
Currently subject to the EU's freedom of movement policy, the Government has signalled its continuing commitment to reducing net immigration to the tens of thousands. It will be important to ensure that EU migrants currently living and working here are not adversely affected by the vote, and that UK citizens who have emigrated are also able to remain in Europe. Around 10% of doctors in the UK are from the EU, and nearly 5% of nurses. In all around 130,000 people from elsewhere in the EU work in our health and social care sectors and we cannot afford to lose their skills.
The Prime Minister has been clear that she wants to protect the status of EU nationals already living here and I hope this will be the case regardless of the terms of reciprocal arrangements.
London is a financial powerhouse, and the City contributed 11% of all taxes in the UK last year. Many international banks are headquartered in the UK and it is also currently the only trading centre in Europe for the Chinese currency. It will be important to ensure that the financial sector is able to access European markets for the future.
Tax and Duties
As part of its EU membership, UK companies do not pay any import or export taxes. A new deal with the EU which impacts minimally on Britain's many exporters will be important for future growth.
Outside of the EU, there is no more harmonisation pressures on UK taxes. This means the government has more flexibility to change the tax system in a way that suits our own priorities.
It is very likely that, even outside of the EU, we will seek bilateral agreement with the EU to continue tackling tax evasion and avoidance. Negotiating a deal on this issue will be high on the agenda. Leaving the EU does not mean an end to agreements that are clearly in the mutual interest of both Britain and the EU.
Both the UK Government and EU leaders have announced that the UK and EU will continue to have a close relationship. Climate change is one of the most serious long-term economic and environmental threats that this country faces and we will continue to work with other European countries in this important area. Greg Clark, the new Secretary for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, who has previous experience working on the Government's Low Carbon Agenda, has been careful to list climate change action among the foremost goals of his new Department. I firmly believe combatting climate change will remain on the agenda for a post-EU Britain.
Britain's biggest challenge in the short-term will be a short-term regulation deficit – while EU Member States will continue to be part of the common fisheries policy, we will have the opportunity to revise how we operate up to the 12 mile limit.In the long term, we will need to renegotiate fishing deals with the EU, Norway, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. It will of course be of vital importance to protect fish stocks and that will require close cooperation with our neighbours.