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UK government publishes paper on Brexit strategy

The U.K. government has published a so-called white paper on its strategy for negotiating the country's departure from the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May said Jan. 25 that the government would publish the document, which many had called for before Britain begins talks over its exit. It broadly reflects the 12 priorities May laid out during a speech Jan. 17, which include controlling immigration and "taking control of our own laws," as well as providing as much certainty as possible throughout the process and securing free trade with the EU and new trade agreements with other countries.

The document reiterates May's statements that Britain wants to avoid "a disruptive cliff-edge" when it formally leaves the EU and that it aims to have secured a new agreement with the EU by the end of the two-year negotiating window foreseen under the bloc's governing treaty. Transitional periods of varying lengths are foreseen under the government's plan, with May having cited the financial services industry as a specific example.

A section of the white paper devoted to the financial services industry notes the City of London's position as a leading global center and says the U.K. "will be aiming for the freest possible trade in financial services between the U.K. and EU member states." It adds that Britain will seek "strong cooperative oversight arrangements with the EU and will continue to support and implement international standards to continue to safely serve the U.K., European and global economy."

The House of Commons voted the evening of Feb. 1 to advance legislation aimed at giving May the ability to declare Britain's intention to leave under Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty. The bill still faces further scrutiny in the Commons and then will pass to the House of Lords, with the government envisioning it taking effect in time to allow the triggering of Article 50 by the end of March.