The British government on Thursday published Prime Minister Theresa May's strategy for withdrawing from the European Union, committing her to leaving the EU single market and customs union.

The white paper "confirms the prime minister's vision of an independent, truly global UK and an ambitious future relationship with the EU," the government said, one day after parliament backed May's plan to trigger formal Brexit negotiations by the end of March.

It commits Britain to leaving the EU single market and customs union, "taking control of our own laws" and controlling immigration.

It lists 12 principles, outlined by May in a key speech last month, that will "guide the government in fulfilling the democratic will of the people of the United Kingdom" following the Brexit referendum in June.

The 650-seat House of Commons, parliament's lower house, backed May's plan to trigger Brexit negotiations by 498 votes to 114 votes late Wednesday after a two-day debate, clearing another hurdle on the way to Brexit.

May has promised to trigger two years of negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows a nation to leave the EU, by the end of March.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the white paper confirmed that May's Conservatives are "committed to a hard Brexit that will do untold damage to our economy."

"No matter how this government dresses it up, tearing up Britain's membership of the single market will mean more red tape for business and fewer opportunities for future generations," Farron said.

Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit minister for the biggest opposition party, Labour, said the white paper offered little new on the government's plans, calling it "rushed, limited and not well thought through."

"The white paper offers no certainty for EU citizens living in the UK, no additional detail on how workers' and consumer rights will be protected, and nothing on how full tariff-free access to the single market will be delivered.

"It's a wish list, not an action plan," Starmer said, adding that Labour planned to push for an amendment to the Article 50 bill to ensure that the British parliament will vote on any Brexit agreement before the European Parliament does.

The white paper gave no detail on how the government plans to "secure the status" of an estimated 2.8 million EU citizens living in Britain and 1 million British citizens living in other EU nations.

It said there could be a "phased process of implementation" for any new immigration arrangements, to allow "enough time to plan and prepare for those new arrangements."

David Davis, May's Brexit minister, said negotiations would focus on "managing the continued cooperation of the UK and the EU."

"The focus will not be about removing existing barriers or questioning certain protections but about ensuring new barriers do not arise," Davis said.

"The UK wants the EU to succeed," he said. "Indeed it is in our interests for it to prosper politically and economically and a strong new partnership with the UK will help to that end," Davis said.

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