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

In July 2018, 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 "[t]he 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 plan was rejected by the EU in September 2018.


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, May addressed the Irish border question, stating that there would be "[n]o 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]

Boris Johnson served as Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018, but resigned over the Chequers plan

Davis, Brexit Secretary at the time of the Chequers meeting, resigned over the agreement on 8 July,[9] Davis' parliamentary under-secretary, Steve Baker, and Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson followed him the next day.[10]

On 18 July 2018, Johnson delivered his resignation speech to the House of Commons. In his speech, he avoided personal attacks on 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 Geoffrey Howe as the 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". Conservative Party member of parliament (MP), Jacob Rees-Mogg, praised the speech, describing it as "the speech of a statesman",[12] whereas, Labour Party MP, Wes Streeting, described it as a "damp squib".[13]


The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has repeatedly stated that the integrity of the European Single Market is "not negotiable", and that there can be no "cherry picking" of the market's four freedoms: free movement of people, goods, services and capital. The UK's proposals outline staying in the European Single Market for goods, but not the other three freedoms.[6] The plan was rejected by the EU on 21 September 2018,[14] urging the UK to come up with another proposal. May, on the other hand, said that Britain needs to see more counter-proposals from the EU.[15]

Result of negotiations[edit]

In November 2018, the Brexit negotiations concluded with a withdrawal agreement and a political declaration. The outcome needs support from the UK parliament and the EU leaders. May described the political declaration as "right for the whole of the UK". Leader of the Opposition, Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn, described it as "26 pages of waffle".[16] The leaders from the remaining twenty-seven EU countries endorsed the draft.[17]

See also[edit]


  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?". i. 24 October 2018. Retrieved 25 October 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. ^ Kuenssberg, Laura (18 July 2018). "Johnson: It is not too late to save Brexit". BBC News. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  13. ^ McGuinness, Alan (19 July 2018). "'It's not too late to save Brexit,' Boris Johnson declares in explosive resignation statement". Sky News. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  14. ^ Hopps, Kat (21 September 2018). "Theresa May Brexit deal: Why has the EU rejected the Chequers plan?". Daily Express. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  15. ^ "May losing support for no-deal Brexit if EU rejects Chequers plan: Report". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  16. ^ "Brexit deal within our grasp, says May". BBC News. 2018-11-22. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  17. ^ "UK's Brexit deal agreed by EU leaders". BBC News. 2018-11-25. Retrieved 2018-11-25.

Further reading[edit]