Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen
Here are the main points from Theresa May’s press conference.
The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the internal market and the customs union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 agreement.
We are working on what our future customs relationship with the European Union will be. In December, when the joint report was published between the European Union and the United Kingdom, we set out clearly options in relation to the commitment that we have given for no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. We expect that to be dealt through the overall relationship we have with the European Union. But there were then two further levels of option, including the final fallback option.
The commission then published a fallback option which was not acceptable to to us. And we will be bringing forward our own proposal for that fallback option in due course.
First of all, we are very clear that we will be leaving the customs union. We will be, in future, outside that customs union able to develop our own independent trade policy …
We are committed, as we leave the customs union and as we look to that future economic partnership, to ensuring that we have a relationship that enables us to have as frictionless trade with the European Union as possible, that we also do [avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland] but also that we are able to have an independent trade policy. And that’s what we will be doing and ensuring that at the end of the implementation period – so, as from the end of December 2020 – we will be able to be operating an independent trade policy.
There is some sign of movement in the Brexit legislative logjam, with the news that the EU withdrawal bill, amended by the Lords 15 times, will now return to the Commons for MPs to consider the amendments before the summer recess.
Earlier on Thursday the leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, announced next week’s business, which had no space for the bill – or any news of other Brexit bills.
We are taking time to consider the amendments, and that is what you would expect us to do on an issue so important.