PMQs: Theresa May announces u-turn on Brexit white paper

But will it be published before the Article 50 vote?


The government will publish a white paper on the government’s plans for the Brexit negotiations, Theresa May announced at PMQs today.

Yesterday, Brexit secretary David Davis repeatedly insisted that May’s Brexit speech, delivered last week, had contained sufficient detail and that a formal plan would not be produced.

However, sustained pressure from the opposition parties, along with a threatened rebellion from Tory MPs has forced May to u-turn.

Speaking at the beginning of PMQs, May said:

“I have been clear, as have senior ministers, that we will ensure that parliament has every opportunity to provide that scrutiny on this issue as we go through this process. But I recognise, I set out that bold plan for a global Britain last week and I recognise there is an appetite in this house to see that plan set out in a white paper….and I can confirm to the house that our plan will be set out in a white paper published in this house.”

‘This is a significant and welcome U-turn from the Prime Minister,’ commented shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer.

“Labour has repeatedly called for the Government to publish a plan for Brexit before Article 50 is triggered and we made clear Labour would table amendments on this to the Article 50 Bill.

“This U-turn comes just 24 hours after David Davis seemed to rule out a White Paper, and failed to answer repeated questions from MPs on all sides of the House.

“The Prime Minister now needs to confirm that this White Paper will be published in time to inform the Article 50 process, and that it will clear up the inconsistencies, gaps and risks outlined in her speech.”

However, the dispute may not be over yet. At the post-PMQs press briefing, a spokesperson for the prime minister clarified that the government is not promising a white paper before the vote on triggering Article 50.

In other words, she’s letting MPs see the plan, but only when it’s too late for them to do anything about it.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

See: Right-wing papers accuse MPs of ‘plotting to thwart Brexit’

See: Five takeaways from the Supreme Court’s Brexit ruling

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