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Georgetown Law Library

United Kingdom Legal Research Guide

This in-depth guide will help researchers navigate legal materials for the United Kingdom.

UK Government Publications on Brexit

UK Cabinet Office Reports

  • Alternatives to Membership:  Possible Models for the United Kingdom Outside the European Union
    This report, published prior to the referendum, outlines three alternatives to UK membership in the EU:  1) joining the European Economic Area (the Norwegian model), 2) negotiating a series of bilateral agreements with the EU (the Swiss model), and 3) relying on World Trade Organization rules (the WTO-only model).
     
  • Rights and Obligations of European Union Membership
    This report, also published prior to the referendum, describes the UK's current status as an EU member state and how that status affects UK law and policy-making on more than a dozen subjects, including trade and investment, research and development, agriculture, the environment, transport, and taxation, among others.
     

White Papers

A white paper is an authoritative report that outlines the government's policy preferences on a particular issue before it introduces legislation to implement them.  Publishing a white paper allows the government to measure public opinion on controversial policy issues and helps it to gauge its probable impact.

  • The United Kingdom's Exit From and New Partnership with the European Union
    This white paper, published by Prime Minister Theresa May's government in February of 2017, outlines its preference for a "hard Brexit" that prioritizes immigration controls over access to the single market and membership in the customs union.  The government's loss of its parliamentary majority in the general election held on June 8, 2017, has led many observers to speculate that the government will soften its position.
     
  • Legislating for the United Kingdom's Withdrawal from the European Union
    This white paper outlines the parameters of a "Great Repeal Bill" to repeal the European Communities Act of 1972, which enables EU law to have direct effect in the UK.  In addition, the proposed legislation will convert all EU law in force on the date of the UK's withdrawal from the EU into UK law, thereby ensuring statutory continuity.  Moving forward, Parliament will have the option of retaining existing EU law or enacting new legislation to replace it on a case-by-case basis.
     

Position Papers

The following documents, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, outline the UK government's negotiating position with respect to key issues related to Brexit:

Parliamentary Briefing Papers on Brexit

Relevant UK Cabinet Departments

  • Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU)
    This newly formed cabinet department, headed by David Davis, MP, is responsible for negotiating the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.  The departmental website provides access to press releases, publications, and other official statements of government policy.
     
  • Department of International Trade (DIT)
    This newly formed department, headed by Liam Fox, MP, is charged with negotiating trade agreements with other countries once the UK has completed its withdrawal from the EU.  Until that happens, the UK remains subject to trade agreements concluded between the EU and non-EU states.
     
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)
    This department, headed by Boris Johnson, MP, is responsible for the UK's external relations.  Although it will not negotiate the UK's withdrawal from the EU, it is expected to exert significant influence on the process.