On this page, you’ll find some frequently asked questions about the UK leaving the EU and the Government’s answers to them.
In June 2016 the British people voted to leave the European Union.
Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union sets out the process by which a member state can leave the EU. It provides for a two year process for these negotiations which must also take account of our future relationship with the EU. Article 50 was triggered on 29 March 2017.
We want to establish a new strategic partnership between the UK and the EU. We are leaving the EU but we are not leaving Europe; we will stay reliable partners, willing allies, and close friends. We want a strong UK, working together with a strong EU in pursuit of our shared values and delivering for ordinary working people in the UK and in the EU.
We want a positive new strategic partnership with the EU and we are confident of achieving this. It is right though that the Government should prepare for every eventuality – but to do so in the knowledge that a constructive and optimistic approach to the negotiations to come is in the best interests of Europe and the best interests of the UK.
A new department has been set up to oversee preparations for the negotiations; the Department for Exiting the European Union.
They and their colleagues from across Whitehall have been consulting widely to develop our negotiating position; meeting with businesses, universities, and civil society, including employers’ organisations. This has informed our analysis of the priorities for the UK economy and our security objectives in advance of the negotiations.
The Prime Minister has met leaders from all the other EU member states as well as the Presidents of the Council, Commission, and the European Parliament. We have also recognised Parliament’s role in scrutinising our withdrawal from the EU. The referendum result was a clear sign that the British people wished to strengthen parliamentary sovereignty. Engagement with Parliament has been extensive so far and it will continue to be so as we enter negotiations.
We have also released our White Paper, which builds on the Prime Minister’s speech at Lancaster House on 17 January 2017. In that speech, she set out twelve important objectives for our EU negotiations. These include control of our own laws and immigration, securing rights for EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU, protecting and enhancing workers’ rights, and strengthening the Union between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Engagement with the Devolved Administrations through a new Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations has also been a priority.
The Prime Minister has been clear that protecting the status of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, will be a priority for negotiations.
As we remain a member state until we leave, the rights and status of people from the EU already living in the UK, and UK nationals living in the EU, have not changed.
We want to give people as much certainty about their future as possible. When negotiations start we want to provide swift reassurance to EU nationals already living in the UK and UK nationals already living in EU countries.
The single market works by treating EU member states as a single economic area. It means businesses can trade goods across the EU without paying tariffs. The single market for services seeks to remove barriers to businesses wanting to trade across borders, or to establish a company in another country.
We have ruled out being a member of the single market, as the PM said in the Lancaster House speech. EU leaders have made clear their view that members of the single market must sign up to the ‘four freedoms’ that underpin it — including the free movement of people – and be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. We respect that position.
Instead, we want a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the EU. This will enable free-flowing trade in both goods and services, and ensure the freedom for UK companies to trade with and operate within European markets.
We also intend to leave the Common Commercial Policy and for the UK not to be bound by the EU’s Common External Tariff so that we can pursue our own independent trade policy, securing trade deals with new partners.
The Prime Minister created the Department for International Trade for this purpose. We will agree a new customs arrangement with the EU to ensure that trade with the EU is as seamless and frictionless as possible, including between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
We will guarantee EU structural and investment projects that are signed before the UK leaves the EU, even if they continue beyond our EU departure. This is provided they represent good value for money and are in line with the UK’s strategic objectives.
UK organisations making bids directly to the European Commission (institutions, universities and businesses) should keep applying for funding.
Over the next few months, the Government will engage closely to review EU funding schemes, so any ongoing funding commitments best serve our national interest.
Our EU membership means that EU law currently applies in the UK. To ensure a smooth transition and provide certainty, wherever practical and appropriate, we are going to turn existing EU law into UK law. After this, our Parliament can change, repeal, and improve any law it chooses. All Government departments are currently reviewing the EU laws that apply in their areas and how our withdrawal from the EU will affect how these laws work.
Without this Bill, there would be large gaps in the UK statute book after we left the EU. This process will give businesses and workers maximum possible certainty as we leave the EU. Existing workers’ legal rights will remain guaranteed in law.
The UK voted to leave the EU, and we have a responsibility to deliver on that vote by negotiating as the UK and securing the right deal for the whole of the UK.
We have been working closely with the Devolved Administrations and established a Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations, so ministers from each of the UK’s Devolved Administrations can contribute to the process of planning for our departure from the EU.
No. The country voted to leave the EU and it is the duty of the Government and Parliament to make sure we do just that.