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UK calls for close economic ties in Brexit white paper

The document calls for close economic ties with the EU through a free trade area and a 'common rulebook' for goods.

The British government has published its highly anticipated Brexit white paper, which lays out its proposal for what a split with the European Union could look like.

Published on Thursday, the 104-page document calls for close economic ties with the bloc through a new free trade area as well as a "common rulebook" for goods.

If accepted by the EU, the proposal would "end free movement, taking back control of the UK's borders".

At the same time, the document says the UK would allow citizens to travel freely and without a visa for tourism and temporary business matters and support businesses "to move their talented people".

Incoming Brexit minister Dominic Raab described the proposal as "innovative" and said it is now up to the EU to respond "in kind".

"We approach these negotiations with a spirit of pragmatism, compromise and, indeed, friendship ... I trust that the EU will engage with our proposals in the same spirit," he told parliament.

Soft-Brexit vs hard-Brexit

The proposal comes days after senior ministers resigned from the cabinet against Prime Minister Theresa May's plans for what is being called as "soft-Brexit" as opposed to many of her ruling party colleagues, who have campaigned for "hard-Brexit".

Raab took over as the minister in charge of Brexit negotiations on Monday, a day after his predecessor David Davis resigned over his disagreement with May's plans to negotiate a "common rulebook for all goods" in a combined customs territory.

Foreign Minister Boris Johnson also resigned, citing his disappointment with the proposals, which he said "stick in the throat".

Hours before he was due to arrive in London, US President Donald Trump questioned if the approach is "what [the UK people] voted for".

Asked about his comments at a NATO summit in Brussels, Prime Minister May defended herself, saying "what we are doing is delivering on the vote of the British people... that's what our proposal does," she told reporters.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said he would analyse the white paper. 

"EU offer = ambitious [Free Trade Agreement] + effective cooperation on wide range of issues, including a strong security partnership," he said in a tweet. 

The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

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