Arguments for leaving the EU - from immigration to regulation - rested on the idea that EU membership eroded parliament’s sovereignty.
The day after MPs voted overwhelmingly to trigger Brexit, the Government published its much-anticipated 77-page White Paper on how we will leave the EU that bizarrely says: “Whilst parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU, it has not always felt like that.”
Labour MP Jess Phillips said it “made parliament sound like a stroppy teen” and Financial Times leader writer Sebastian Payne called it “the most idiotic bit” of the paper.
Lawyer and legal journalist David Allen Green noted the sentence and said of the Government: “Bless the little snowflakes.”
He added: “Parliamentary Sovereignty doesn’t care about your feelings.”
He questioned how Britain could leave the EU within two years of triggering Article 50, as Theresa May has pledged, when “it cannot produce a half-decent White Paper after six months”.
How is the UK going complete the complex task of Brexit in two years when it cannot produce a half-decent White Paper after six months?
— Law and policy (@Law_and_policy) February 2, 2017
The phrasing on sovereignty may have something to do with the fact the White Paper was finished at 4.17am on Thursday morning, according to the timestamp on every page.
The document was criticised for not giving details on many aspects of leaving the EU, including the fate of EU nationals who already live here.
It does not expressly guarantee their right to stay, saying instead: “We want to secure the status of EU citizens who are already living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in other Member States, as early as we can.”
Labour said the document “says nothing” and was released too late for any “meaningful” scrutiny.
The White Paper set out the government’s 12 principles ahead of future negotiations with the EU, which were first announced by May last month.
The Guardian’s Jon Henley, the paper’s European affairs correspondent, explained the crucial points and what the paper adds to what the Government has already said.
He noted that it does not detail how it will preserve the open border between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland, nor does it go beyond Theresa May’s speech last month on the Single Market, customs union and whether Britain will pay anything towards the EU budget post-Brexit.
As well as lacking detail, it contained at least one basic mistake.
Laurie Anstis, an immigration and employment lawyer, noted that one of the graphs seemed to think the UK employment law gives employees at least 14 weeks holiday a year.
...which turned out to be because someone had got the bars in the bar graph the wrong way round.
One person realised the graph has been “completely mislabelled” and corrected it.
Author: Jack Sommers