Chequers plan

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The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union
Crowned Portcullis.svg
Created12 July 2018
LocationHouse of Commons Library
Online version
Author(s)Government of the United Kingdom
PurposeTo lay out the relationship that the UK proposes to have with the European Union after Brexit.
Chequers — the official country residence of the Prime Minister since 1921, where the Brexit proposals were agreed by the Cabinet.

The Chequers plan, also known as the Chequers deal, Chequers agreement or simply Chequers, is a key white paper concerning Brexit, published 12 July 2018 by the UK Government under Prime Minister, Theresa May. It lays out the type of relationship the UK seeks to have with the European Union after Brexit.[1][2] Its official title is The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

The then Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Secretary), Dominic Raab, described it as a "detailed proposal for a principled, pragmatic and ambitious future partnership between the UK and the EU".[3] He also stated that "The white paper proposes a free trade area for goods to maintain frictionless trade, supported by a common rulebook and a new facilitated customs arrangement, but only for the rules that are necessary to provide frictionless trade at the border."[4]

The white paper was finalised at a meeting of the UK Cabinet held at Chequers on 6 July 2018.[5] Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigned in opposition to the plan.


The white paper is split into four chapters: economic partnership, security, cooperation and institutional arrangements.[2]

The plan aims at holding the UK in a close relationship with the EU, stating that the new relationship be “broader in scope than any other that exists between the EU and a third country”. This would be done by establishing a new association agreement.[6]

A common rulebook on state aid would be agreed, preventing either side from subsidising their own industries. For its part, the UK will commit to maintaining high environmental, climate change, social, employment and consumer protection standards.[7]

When presenting the plan, Theresa May addressed the Irish border question, stating that there would be "No hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and no border in the UK".[8] A “facilitated customs agreement” would remove the need for customs checks by treating the UK and EU “as if a combined customs territory”. The UK would apply EU's tariffs and trade policy on goods intended for the bloc but would control its own tariffs and trade for the domestic market.[7]

Subsequent resignations[edit]

David Davis, Brexit Secretary at the time of the Chequers meeting, resigned over the agreement on 8 July, [9] as the next day did his Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Steve Baker, and the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.[10]

Boris Johnson served as Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018, but resigned over the Chequers plan in protest at Theresa May's proposals.

On 18 July 2018, Boris Johnson delivered his resignation speech to the House of Commons. In his speech he avoided personal attacks on Theresa May, although he asserted that ministers were "saying one thing to the EU about what we are really doing, and pretending another to the electorate".[11] Instead of adhering to the Lancaster House Vision set out in January 2017, Johnson said, "a fog of self doubt [had] descended" and that the government "burned through negotiating capital". He later added that "it is not too late to save Brexit. We have time in these negotiations. We have changed tack once and we can change once again". The speech received notable attention, with many noting its similarities to the 1990 resignation speech of Sir Geoffrey Howe as Deputy Prime Minister, which contributed to the resignation of Margaret Thatcher. Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC noted the seriousness of the speech, stating that "it's the first Boris Johnson speech that I can remember watching that didn't have any jokes", while Jacob Rees-Mogg, a pro-Brexit MP and leader of the European Research Group, praised the speech, describing it as "the speech of a statesman".[12][13]

Johnson continues to speak out against Theresa May and the Chequers plan through both writings and the spoken word, including a weekly column in The Daily Telegraph and one in The Mail on Sunday, where he recently wrote in response to the EU's chief negotiator. He said, "We have wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution and handed the detonator to Michel Barnier."[14]


The EU's Chief Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier, has repeatedly stated that the integrity of the EU Single Market is “not negotiable”, and that there can be no “cherry picking” of the EU Single Market's four freedoms: free movement of people, goods, services and capital. The UK's proposals outline staying in the EU Single Market for goods, but not the other three freedoms.[6]

The Chequers plan was eventually rejected by the EU[15], urging the UK to come up with another proposal if they wish to continue. Theresa May, on the other hand, said that Britain needs to see more counter-proposals from the EU.[16] These discrepancies have brought back into discussion the possibility of a "no deal" brexit.


  1. ^ "The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union". Department for Exiting the European Union via GOV.UK. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b Morris, Chris (12 July 2018). "Brexit: What does the government White Paper reveal?". BBC News. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  3. ^ Dominic RaabSecretary of State for Exiting the European Union (12 July 2018). "EU: Future Relationship White Paper". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. col. 1154.
  4. ^ Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (18 July 2018). "Future Relationship Between the UK and the EU". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. col. 471.
  5. ^ Walker, Peter (6 July 2018). "What the cabinet has agreed at Chequers Brexit meeting". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  6. ^ a b "All EU need to know". Jul 16, 2018. Retrieved Oct 25, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "What is the Chequers Deal?". Oct 24, 2018. Retrieved Oct 25, 2018.
  8. ^ "'Theresa May's Brexit proposals died in Brussels in eight short minutes'". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  9. ^ Stewart, Heather (9 July 2018). "Brexit secretary David Davis resigns plunging government into crisis". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  10. ^ Stewart, Heather; Crerar, Pippa; Sabbagh, Dan (9 July 2018). "May's plan 'sticks in the throat', says Boris Johnson as he resigns over Brexit". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  11. ^ "Boris Johnson on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Johnson: It is not too late to save Brexit". BBC News. 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Jacob Rees-Mogg on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Boris Johnson's bid for the Tory leadership". The Economist. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  15. ^ Hopps, Kat (2018-09-21). "Theresa May Brexit deal: Why has the EU rejected the Chequers plan?". Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  16. ^ "May losing support for no-deal Brexit if EU rejects Chequers plan: Report". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2018-10-25.

Further reading[edit]