Brexit White Paper - What exactly will it contain?

Brexit White Paper - What does it actually mean?

Theresa May has promised to publish a White Paper on the plans for Brexit

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Today, Theresa May has promised that there will be a White Paper on how the Government plans to negotiate the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. 

The news comes after politicians from both the Labour and Conservative parties demanded a White Paper before voting on whether to trigger Article 50.

But what exactly is a White Paper, and how much detail will it contain?

Well, a White Paper is defined as a formal document that informs and explains a complex matter to readers and outlines the orginator's stance on it. It dates back to 1922, when Winston Churchill published the first White Paper.

In terms of the Government, it is a document that will detail future policy and proposals for upcoming legislation. They can include draft versions of the bill to move through Parliament.

However, it is different from a Green Paper, which is a bill solely up for consultation seen more as a step towards legislation. White Papers are an authoritative, definitive statement of government policy.

Therefore, what this essentially means and what can be expected from it is the Government will be laying bare their entire plans for the negotiations.

It marks an interesting u-turn for the Prime Minister. In her speech less than two weeks ago, Mrs May said that those urging for the "blow-by-blow details of our negotiating strategy", the areas where compromise might be sought, "will not be acting in the national interest."

And "blow-by-blow" details could be exactly what will be detailed in the document.

Readers of the paper may get a detailed look at exactly how Theresa May will negotiate. The priorities outlined in her speech at Lancaster House last week could be explained in greater detail. Most crucially for Labour, it could clarify whether or not Mrs May plans for a so-called 'hard brexit', or 'soft Brexit'. 

It will serve as a blueprint for how she plans to structure her negotiations, and provide MPs with a greater ability to hold the Government to account over the bill that is now legally required to trigger Article 50.

It will also allow for greater scrutiny as to what the Government will push for in the final deal with the EU, which will also be put to a vote in the House of Commons. 

With the Brexit bill expected as soon as Thursday, no doubt the White Paper detailing the Brexit plans will come with it. 

But it remains to be seen how much will be revealed - and how much will be retained in the national interest.