Whilst Theresa May has stated that a ‘running commentary’ on the Brexit negotiations will not be provided, there have been several updates from Westminster regarding the UK’s proposed withdrawal from the EU.
Firstly, David Davis MP, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, made a ministerial statement stating that the government was committed to withdrawing from the EU and would not try to “stay in the EU by the back door”. He confirmed that the Government will try to build a national consensus around its approach to Brexit, consulting as many stakeholders as possible, and will take time to get the negotiations right, despite pressure from Donald Tusk and other European politicians to trigger Article 50 TEU as soon as possible.
During questions afterwards, Davis stated that, for as long as the UK remains a member of the EU, it will continue to meet all obligations relating to the Unified Patent Court. Controversially, he also said it was “very improbable” that the UK would remain in the single market, a statement that Theresa May distanced herself from, stating that it was not Government policy but rather Davis’ opinion.
The Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox MP, also received his first oral questions, during which he set out his department’s responsibilities, which include promoting exports of UK goods and services and delivering the best international trading framework outside the EU, announcing a new UK-India Trade Working Group to look at opportunities post-Brexit.
Additionally, the Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss MP, gave evidence to the Justice Select Committee, stating that she was working closely with the Department for Exiting the EU and the Department for International Trade on the issue of Brexit and would support a piece of work by the committee looking at issues affecting the Ministry of Justice post-Brexit.
During Parliamentary Questions, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, received questions regarding the Schengen Information System and European Arrest Warrant. It was confirmed that the government will continue to cooperate with their EU counterparts on these matters whilst the UK remains a member of the EU and is exploring options for future cooperation following Brexit. It was also outlined that the government would like to maintain the UK’s membership of Europol.
Finally, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP, met with the European Financial Services Chairman’s Advisory Committee regarding the financial services industry. Afterwards, he stated that he is “determined to listen to what the industry has to say on key issues, like access to the single market” and signaled that ‘highly skilled’ workers, including bankers, should be exempt from any curbs to the free movement of people. Hammond will be holding further meetings with a variety of sectors in the coming months.