The UK government's much-awaited Brexit White Paper was unveiled to MPs by David Davis in the House of Commons on Thursday (2 February).

The publication of the 77-page document comes just a day after MP overwhelmingly voted 498 to 114 to back the Article 50 bill, the legislation needed to trigger divorce talks with the EU.

Davis said the plan, based around the prime minister's Lancaster House speech in January, confirms that the government wants an "independent, truly global" UK and an "ambitious future relationship" with the EU.

"It is in the UK's interest for the EU to succeed politically and economically. And so we approach the negotiation to come in a spirit of goodwill and working to an outcome in our mutual benefit," the Brexit secretary told MPs.

The document outlines how the government will not seek to maintain the UK's membership of the EU's single-market and calls for a "bespoke" customs arrangement with the economic and political bloc, which will allow Britain to broker its own free trade deal.

The White Paper also confirms that Davis and May are willing to make "appropriate contributions" to the EU budget in bid to maintain access to some parts of the single-market.

The Vote Leave campaign falsely claimed that the UK sends £350m ($440m)-a-week to Brussels ahead of the EU referendum vote last June. Britain's net contribution to the EU budget was around £130m per week between 2010 and 2014, according to the UK Statistics Authority.

The Article 50 bill

A bill to:

Confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty
on European Union, the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

(1)The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European
Union, the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the EU.

(2)This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European
5Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.

2 Short title

This Act may be cited as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act

Labour's shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer claimed the plan "says nothing", while the SNP's EU spokesman Stephen Gethins said the document was a mess.

"This is just another panicked U-turn. I mean it's much of an achievement to be the second most chaotic part in this chamber when it comes to matters of Europe," he said. "They've only had seven months to pull it together and yet we only got it now, a minute before the minister even got to his feet.

Gethins added: "This White Paper is a mess, it's a boorach and it is going to have an impact on each and every one of us. People deserve better."

The document comes before Article 50 bill has its third reading and committee stage in the Commons. The draft legislation is then expected to go up to the House of Lords, where it may face delays.

The government hopes to pass the bill through parliament by 7 March and trigger Brexit talks on 9 March, peers have been told.

Theresa May's 12-point Brexit plan

  1. Government will provide certainty and clarity to politicians and businesses.
  2. UK will 'control our own laws' by quitting the European Court of Justice.
  3. May will strengthen the 'precious union' between England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  4. There will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  5. UK will 'control' EU immigration, while recruiting the 'brightest and the best' from around the world.
  6. Government will seek a reciprocal residency rights deal for EU and UK workers 'as soon as possible'.
  7. To protect workers' rights.
  8. Ministers will seek a 'bold' and 'comprehensive' free trade agreement with the EU.
  9. UK will seek a customs agreement so that it can broker its own trade deals with non-EU nations.
  10. May will keep European science and innovation ties in bid to keep the UK a 'world leader'.
  11. UK will continue to work with the EU in bid a bid to combat the threat of terrorism.
  12. Ministers will seek to avoid a 'cliff edge' and seek a smooth split from the EU.