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Updated | UK government to publish White Paper setting out Brexit plan, May tells parliament

Theresa May has announced the government will set out its Brexit plans in a formal policy document

25 January 2017, 8:52am
Last updated on 25 January 2017, 4:26pm
The Bill on Article 50 is set to be published in the coming days
The Bill on Article 50 is set to be published in the coming days
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday she would publish her plan for Britain's exit from the European Union in a formal 'White Paper' to allow parliament to scrutinise it.

The move comes after the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, with an eight to three vote, that the government must seek parliamentary approval before triggering the legal process of exiting the bloc.

This prompted a number of Conservative MPs to joined Labour in asking the plans set to be out in a formal 'White Paper' to facilitate greater scrutiny before a parliamentary vote on triggering.

White papers are policy documents produced by the government that set out their proposals for future legislation.

The government had responded to those calls by saying it believed the publication of a white paper was not necessary.

But, on Wednesday, May changed her position.

"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," May told parliament. "I can confirm to the house that our plan will be set out in a white paper."

The Institute for Government, a think tank, said there were no rules about what must be included in a white paper, and that any such document could simply repeat the contents of May's speech.

The UK government is expected to publish a bill on Thursday. Opposition parties and the Tory rebels are likely to push for the White Paper to be published before parliament votes on the legislation.

“We now want to see the timing and it is clear the White Paper needs to come to parliament in time for the debate ... MPs have a right to be able to see what the government’s plan of action is. The speech is not adequate. It set out a wish-list of options,” a Labour spokesman said.

“As we’ve said many times, Labour respects the decision of the British people to leave the EU and therefore will not frustrate the will of the British people. But respecting the will of the British people is very different from respecting the will of the British government. We need to see the plan and make sure the process is held to account in parliament at every stage.”