“Dear Mr President,
The UK Parliament has passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. Its provisions now require Her Majesty’s Government to seek an extension of the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty, currently due to expire at 11.00pm GMT on 31 October 2019, until 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020.
I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty. The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end at 11.00pm GMT on 31 January 2020. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”
Dear Mr President,
Attached to this letter is a text that the United Kingdom parliament has by a formal legislative Act required me to send to you. It will not have escaped you that this law is an apparent breach of the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees free expression, and is thus of doubtful validity. More important still, it is a betrayal of ancient and established British constitutional practice, and of that Separation of Powers which one of the greatest of European philosophers, Charles de Montesquieu, regarded as the foundation of free government. This Act has been passed by an unstable majority in a ‘dead parliament’. However, in order to avoid inflaming what is already an incipient constitutional crisis, I am obeying parliament in transmitting this text to you.
However, in order that you and the Member States of the European Union should not be misled, it is essential that I explain clearly what the policy of Her Majesty’s Government actually is.
First, the Government is solemnly pledged to carry out the mandate first given in the Referendum of 2016, confirmed in the General Elections of 2017, and given legislative force by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act (2018). This mandate is to leave the European Union, and to do so no later than 31 October 2019. It is the legally expressed will of the sovereign people of the United Kingdom. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights expresses it, “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.” Moreover, this policy fully complies with Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon in having proceeded in accordance with our own constitutional requirements.
Consequently, whether or not the European Union offers an extension to British membership under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, Her Majesty’s Government will act on the basis that the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the Union after 31 October 2019. It will no longer recognize the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and will not apply new European Union legislation or contribute to the EU budget. It will not nominate a Commissioner. It will apply World Trade Organization regulations and seek to conclude trade agreements with other countries, many of which have already been agreed in principle. It will if necessary apply the import tariff schedule that has previously been published. It will faithfully carry out the many agreements made over the last few months as a Third Party with the Union and its Member States to keep normal trade and movement operating. It will not create a visible border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Free movement will end, and the United Kingdom will continue to guarantee the rights of resident European citizens. All matters concerning the financial liabilities owed by the United Kingdom to the European Union, and by the European Union to the United Kingdom, it will submit to neutral international arbitration. Her Majesty’s Government commits itself to accepting the outcome of this arbitration, and calls on the European Union to do the same.
I am sure that you, like me, would regret if this were the imperfect outcome of the long and laborious negotiations that have been carried on since 2016, so far without result. We are however prepared to follow this course if there is no other.
But I am now making a formal offer to you of a ‘deal’, which is in the interests of the peoples and governments of the European Union, especially those whose economic well being depends to a considerable extent on exports to the United Kingdom: above all, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy. My offer is that the United Kingdom and the European Union give joint notification forthwith to the World Trade Organization that it is their intention to proceed without delay to negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement; and that in the interim, under Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, they will continue mutual tariff free trade after the United Kingdom has left the Union on the same basis as before. This will ensure that the economic well being of all our peoples is safeguarded, will prevent uncertainty and possible disruption, and will provide time and space to conclude an amicable and fruitful negotiation on equal terms of our future relationship, as is required under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland