Theresa May backs down over plans for a Brexit white paper

 
Mark Sands
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June. (Source: Getty)

Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed plans to publish a Brexit white paper, just over 24 hours after the Supreme Court ruled that she must gain the approval of parliament to trigger Article 50.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions today, May said she recognised an "appetite" among her own MPs for the paper, citing questions from supporters of the UK's Single Market membership and Anna Soubry, in particular.

Soubry was among the former Conservative Remain backers who yesterday pushed for a white paper, alongside former attorney general Dominic Grieve and former education secretary Nicky Morgan.

Read More: With Scotland getting no say on Article 50, have we reached Peak SNP?

May did not specify when the white paper would be published, but ministers are expected to publish legislation giving the government the right to begin Brexit talks within days.

It marks a government concession to pressure from the backbenches. Downing Street had previously insisted that May's landmark Lancaster House address last week would represent the "Brexit plan" that the Prime Minister had previously offered.

However, a white paper facilitates further debate, and would be expected to include additional, technical details. Grieve told City A.M. yesterday that it would serve as "a reference point for the government's stated intentions".

Read More: "No deal" or "Bad deal" - Six things we learned from May's Brexit speech

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also sought to pressure the Prime Minister over his concerns around protection for workers' rights in the aftermath of quitting Europe.

However, May responded by quoting comments from Labour's London mayor Sadiq Khan, who earlier today said he did not believe the government would attack protections for workers.

Speaking in City Hall today, Khan said there was “no evidence” ministers were planing an assault on workers’ rights.

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