The Brexit White Paper is strong on aspirations but weak on the detail of how to achieve them. The paper refers repeatedly to “cooperation” (226 times) and to “new” arrangements (153). There’s a long shopping list of fields of activity which will require specific negotiation. The main proposal for mechanisms is to create an institutional framework, a governing body, a joint committee, and then sub-branches dealing with the specifics such as fishing, security, data protection and so forth.
While it’s fine to propose cooperation, every one of the areas considered is going to need negotiation and agreement of terms. In most cases, the document does not say what those terms should be, only that the issue has to be discussed. For example,
the Government’s vision is for an economic partnership that includes:
- … a new Facilitated Customs Arrangement
- … new arrangements on services and digital
- … new economic and regulatory arrangements for financial services
- … a new framework that respects the UK’s control of its borders …
The White Paper is blunt, however, on at least two points. One concerns mobility, and the civil rights of EU citizens. The UK is happy enough for Brits to live abroad but EU citizens will be restricted, with the main exception of easy-going tourist visas. The other is fisheries, where the document states baldly that access to UK waters will have to be licensed and negotiated annually.
There is of course hardly anything the issues that matter most to ordinary people, such as residence or family law, where the most that is said is that something will have to be agreed.