I have never met Mr Davis, the new Minister for Brexit, nor is it remotely likely that he or his Department should want, let alone ask, for my help. However, in these uncertain times, it is my patriotic duty to offer it anyway.
From: The Right Hon David Davis PC MP MBA MsC, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
To: Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers of the European Union.
Dear Hr Tranholm-Mikkelsen,
I appreciate that many colleagues on the Council of Ministers would rather Brexit did not happen. However, I am equally confident that we are all agreed that, if it has to happen (as UK voters wish), it should be in an orderly way, which citizens across Europe would regard as sensible.
To achieve this the Agreement required by Article 50(2) of the Lisbon Treaty (likewise any arrangement for the future relations between the EU and the UK, to the extent this is separate from the Agreement) has to be negotiated within the two year timescale laid down by Article 50(3). This will be a challenge.
In order to meet this challenge four things are required:
- There must be an agreed process setting out how negotiations are to be conducted (defining workstreams, outputs and escalation mechanisms).
- To the extent that the EU and UK can articulate high level principles to guide the negotiations (an obvious principle, for example, being that all parties wish Brexit to be orderly and sensible), we should do so. (I am not suggesting a pre-negotiation of the details of Brexit – if there are principles on which we can agree without negotiation that will help us to deal with details that are not so easy to resolve.)
- There must be a timetable setting out the stages of the negotiation and when they are to be completed.
- There must be mechanisms for resolving issues that cannot be agreed within the timescale – one element of this should be binding arbitration.
My staff has drafted the attached Annex expanding on each of these points. The purpose of the Annex is to help the Council in its thinking as well as to clarify what is in our minds in the UK. We will respond constructively to whatever proposals the Council puts forward.
The essential thing is to reassure citizens of the UK and of EU member states that Brexit negotiations will be orderly, sensible, timely and conclusive. It is the view of HM Government that this is what the UK electorate voted for in the recent UK referendum. The existence of the necessary framework is one of the factors HM Government will take into account in deciding how to give effect to the results of the referendum and of whether and when to give a notification under Article 50(2), following a decision (in constitutionally binding terms) to leave the EU.
I look forward to working with you.