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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 & Parliamentary Documents

Relevant UK Cabinet Departments

  • Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU)
    This department is responsible for negotiating the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.  Its website includes an Article 50 Negotiations Page, which provides access to position papers, press releases, speeches, and official statements of government policy, as well as information about the UK's negotiating team and meeting agendas.
     
  • Department of International Trade (DIT)
    This newly formed department is responsible for negotiating trade agreements with other countries after the UK withdraws from the EU.
     
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)
    This department 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.
     

UK Government Publications on Brexit

Links to a selection of the UK Government's most significant publications on Brexit and its impact are provided below.

Cabinet Office Reports

The UK Cabinet Office supports the work of the Prime Minister and her cabinet in formulating government policies and in coordinating the implementation of these policies.

  • Alternatives to Membership:  Possible Models for the UK Outside the EU
    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.
     

Economic Impact Analysis & Sectoral Analyses

The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) commissioned an internal study to assess the economic impact of leaving the EU on the UK as a whole and on specific sectors of the UK's economy.  In December, 2017, the DExEU reluctantly shared this study with members of the House of Commons Select Committee on Exiting the European Union, but it did not make the contents publicly available.  After Parliament voted to release the study, the Select Committee published the study's components on its website.

  • UK-Wide Economic Impact Analysis
    The UK-wide component of the study forecasts the economic impact of the leaving the EU under three exit scenarios:  a Norwegian model, under which the UK would retain full access to the single market; a free trade agreement between the EU and the UK; and a "no-deal" scenario in which trade would be governed by WTO rules.
     
  • Sectoral Economic Impact Analyses
    This gateway page provides links to the sector-specific components of the study on the economic impact of Brexit.  Each of the 39 reports focuses on a specific sector of the UK economy, from aerospace to tourism.  All are available for download in PDF format.
     

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 Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union (July, 2018)
    This white paper contains the government's most detailed proposals to date for the UK's future relationship with the EU and marks a shift toward a softer Brexit.  The proposals include a free trade area for goods, supported by a "facilitated customs arrangement" and a "common rulebook" on regulatory standards; a "framework for mobility" to replace the free movement of people; continued cooperation in security matters; and continued coordination on foreign policy and defense issues.
     
  • Customs Bill:  Legislating for the UK's Future Customs, VAT, and Excise Regimes (Oct., 2017)
    This white paper describes the provisions of a bill to revise the UK's customs, VAT, and excise collection systems.
     
  • Preparing for Our Future Trade Policy (Oct., 2017)
    This white paper outlines the basic principles that will shape the UK's future trading framework and the government's approach to developing a post-Brexit trade policy.
     
  • Legislating for the United Kingdom's Withdrawal from the European Union (March, 2017)
    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. The legislation will convert all EU law in force on the date of the UK's withdrawal into UK law, thereby ensuring statutory continuity.  Moving forward, Parliament will be able to retain existing EU law or enact new legislation to replace it on a case-by-case basis.
     
  • The United Kingdom's Exit From and New Partnership with the European Union (Feb., 2017)
    This white paper outlines the government's preference for a "hard Brexit" that prioritizes immigration controls over access to the single market and membership in the customs union.
     

Position Papers

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

Future Partnership Papers

The following documents, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, summarize the government's vision of the UK's future relationship with the EU after Brexit.

Relevant Parliamentary Committees

The parliamentary committees listed below provide legislative oversight of the UK Government's Brexit policies:

  • Select Committee on Exiting the European Union (House of Commons)
    This House of Commons Committee monitors the work and expenditures of the Department for Exiting the European Union.  Click here to access committee reports and publications.
     
  • European Scrutiny Committee (House of Commons)
    This House of Commons committee reviews draft legislation submitted by the Government pertaining to the UK's withdrawal from the EU.  It also has the authority to recommend documents for debate.  Click here to access committee reports and publications. 
     
  • European Union Select Committee (House of Lords) 
    Like its counterparts in the House of Commons, this House of Lords committee scrutinizes the actions and policies of the Government with respect to the UK's withdrawal from the EU.  Click here to access committee reports and publications.
     
  • European Union Justice Sub-Committee (House of Lords)
    This sub-committee of the House of Lords reviews Brexit's impact on criminal justice and procedure, fundamental rights, copyright, intellectual property, and consumer protection.  Click here to access committee reports and publications.
     

Parliamentary Briefing Papers on Brexit

Briefing papers prepared for members of Parliament by the House of Commons Library and by the House of Lords Library can be excellent sources of information about the impact of Brexit on specific issues and industries.