Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Irish border, Northern Ireland

#Brexit and the Politics of Hard Numbers

This blog was written on Aug 26, 2018.

Commons voteIn the end, democratic politics comes down to the brutality of numbers… of hard numbers. Either you have the votes to get measures through parliament or you don’t.

Politics is about being able to count. Ask the Australian politician Peter Dutton about hard numbers. Last Monday he believed he had the votes to oust the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and take the top job himself. He had the votes, as they say in Australia to ‘spill’ Turnbull but lost to Scott Morrison when it came to the decision as to who would replace Turnbull. Dutton counted the wrong numbers.

For a great part of the past 100 years parliamentary majorities and party discipline generally gave UK governments the numbers they needed in the House of Commons.

But not when it comes to Brexit.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Negotiating, Theresa May

Six Specific #Brexit Thoughts on a Summer’s Day

This blog was written on Monday July 30th.

cropped-raab-1.jpgIt was a Brexit week in which not much happened, except for the small matter of the EU’s chief negotiator, Michael Barnier, telling the new UK Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, that a key proposition in Theresa May’s Chequers plan would never be accepted by the EU.

You know the proposition, I’m referring to. The one where the UK says to the EU we’re leaving because we never liked you and you are holding us back; we are setting up as a rival business and we are going to do our own deals with the people you already have deals with or are doing deals with. But would it be OK if we collected monies owed to you by these guys? We promise, we’ll be honest and pass it on to you. All of it, every euro.

To nobody’s surprise, Barnier politely declined the UK’s offer. The UK is now working on plan E or F, not sure which.

I started writing about Brexit a year or so ago in response to questions I was being asked by the multinational companies we deal with. I have learnt a lot in that time, not just about Brexit but about British politics and about the EU, and about the almost complete lack of understanding of the EU, what drives it and how it works, on the part of the UK political class and commentariat.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Irish border, Northern Ireland, Theresa May

There is Only One #Brexit Question: The Irish Question

May FosterBrexit, all comes down to this: The Irish Question.

As on so many other occasions over the past 200 years, the English, and it is mainly the English, do not know to handle the existential problems that Ireland creates for UK politics.

As we have done previously in this Briefing, it is well to remind ourselves that the UK voted to leave the EU. It was not pushed out, expelled or asked to leave. It decided to leave, and UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, determined, fairly much on her own it seems, that leaving meant leaving the single market, the customs union, the jurisdiction of the European Court and ending the free movement of people. The problems of Brexit are entirely of the UK’s making.

The EU didn’t start the fire.

Despite initial shock and deep disappointment, the EU has never sought to challenge the decision of the UK to leave. It accepted the decision and told the UK that its departure would have to be dealt with in accordance with Article 50 (A50) of the Lisbon Treaty. The key language in A50 reads:

In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. Continue reading

Brexit, British Government, Brussels, GDPR, Labour Law, Michel Barnier, Theresa May

The @GovUk #Brexit White Paper: More Questions than Answers

This blogpost was written on Friday, July 13th, 2018 

WHIf it worked once it will work again. That seems to be Theresa May’s approach to the Brexit negotiations, judging by the White Paper The Future Relationship Between The UK And The EU, published on Thursday. Back in 2012 when she was Home Secretary, using protocol 36 of the Lisbon Treaty, May opted-out en bloc from all the police and criminal justice measures adopted under the Maastricht Treaty before the EU court of justice in Luxembourg took over jurisdiction of them under Lisbon.

She then proceeded to opt back in to all of the measures she liked but was able to claim, to assuage die-hard anti-European Court Tory backbenchers, that she had opted-out.

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Article 50, Brexit, Single Market, Theresa May

No “hokey-cokey” #Brexit… there is only one #SingleMarket

ChequersAs I write, Friday morning, July 6th, the UK’s faction-ridden cabinet is gathering at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country residence (Pic), to try to finally trash out an agreed UK proposal to the EU over the direction of travel of the future trading and economic relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

What the prime minister wants the cabinet to endorse appears to be a package of customs union and single market membership for goods, but not for services. The EU has already clearly signalled that it will reject any such proposal.

The clue is in the word “single”, as Chris Grey explains in this blog post: here. Let’s go further than Chris. How would you decide which companies fall within the definition of “goods” and which within “services”?

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Theresa May

#Brexit Will Not End Well… or…Brits need to realise: the #EU is just not that into you

This blog was written on June 12th 2018

Lemass DeGaulle
Lemass with De Gaulle in 1962

In the blizzard of policy statements, position papers, press conferences and parliamentary debates it is crucial to keep one fact in mind: the UK is leaving the EU on March 29th, 2019, unless the UK parliament votes to withdraw the Article 50 notice. Given the views expressed by the Conservative government and the opposition Labour Party this seems unlikely to happen. But never say never.

 

As matters stand, on March 29th, 2019, the UK will become a “third country”, outside of the EU institutions and legal framework. That there may be a transition period until the end of December 2020, with the UK de facto following all EU laws but without a voice in the EU governance structures, does not change the fact that on March 30th, 2019, the UK will have left the EU. Everything else is nothing more than dealing with the consequences of that exit. Damage limitation at best.

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Brexit, David Davis, Michel Barnier, Negotiating

On #Brexit there are the Crashers, the Cavers and the Light Remainers

This blogpost was written on May 27th 2018.

david-cameron-eu-referendum-390x285This week the Brexit negotiations resumed in Brussels with the UK presenting a series of papers, or rather PowerPoints, on issues ranging from future economic relationships between the two sides, through security cooperation to data protection and data flows.

On data protection, an issue with which we are very familiar, the UK’s pitch can best be summed up as:

Can we all pretend, and act, as if the UK has not left the EU?

Can we have exactly the same arrangement on data flows as we have now?

After Brexit, we won’t really be a third country, you know, not really, so can our data protection person still turn up at meetings of the European Data Protection Board?

But, of course, we will be outside the jurisdiction of the European Court and so we will need our own procedures to resolve disputes.

The only surprise is that the presentation did not end with that much used advert punchline: “…because we’re worth it”.

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