Category Archives: Blog

“When we have decided what you voted for, we will tell you.”

Brendan_Donnelly

 

by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

 

It used to be claimed during the Cold War that in the countries of the Soviet bloc elections could not take place until the government had decided what their result should be. Here, we order these matters differently. We had a referendum on 23rd June about the European Union, but the government has still to decide what its result will be. The widely-advertised “brain-storming session” of Mrs May on 31st August has taken us little further in the search for content to fill out the empty assertion that “Brexit means Brexit.”  The only specific matter upon which Mrs May and her colleagues could apparently agree was their hostility to the principle of European free movement. This is not an encouraging basis on which to erect a negotiating strategy for the “sensible and orderly departure” of the United Kingdom from the EU that Mrs May says she seeks. Continue reading “When we have decided what you voted for, we will tell you.”

Brexit, what Brexit?

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by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

 

Recently installed as she is at 10 Downing Street, Theresa May has probably not yet given much thought to her resignation honours list when she ceases to be Prime Minister. If she does, an obvious candidate for preferment should be the official who invented for her the magnificently vacuous mantra, “Brexit means Brexit.” These three little words have provided over the last month at least some decorous concealment of the indecent confusion which comprises current British governmental policy towards the European Union. The phrase corresponds well to Lloyd George’s definition of a perfect parliamentary answer: it is short, true and wholly uninformative. Of course, “Brexit” means “Brexit.” The question is what “Brexit” means. No answer to that question has yet been given, and it is difficult to see how Mrs. May’s government and party can ever arrive at a consensus on this issue. Continue reading Brexit, what Brexit?

The Countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Brexit impact

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by Viara Bojkova, Head of Geo-Economics Porgramme and Senior Research Fellow, Global Policy Institute

 

While the UK economy and the society are still adjusting to the new political and business reality, to make any final conclusions about the Brexit impact on the rest of Europe seems challenging. My intention with this piece is to make a few points to describe how the relations between Britain and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe might be affected. Continue reading The Countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Brexit impact

The light at the end of the tunnel is several oncoming trains

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By Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust for Education & Research

Until the time of writing (15th July) the chaos wreaked on the United Kingdom by the disruptive and unexpected outcome of Mr. Cameron’s referendum on 23rd June has been more obviously political than economic. The personal ambitions and resentments of the leading personalities in the “Leave” campaign have spilled over into a Jacobean drama of revenge and treachery which has diminished our country in the eyes of the rest of world. At times, it has appeared that the UK’s likely exit from the European Union was simply a collateral consequence of the dysfunctional Conservative Party, a consequence not necessarily desired by all its apparent advocates. Despite this febrile background, we now however know and understand more about a number of issues which will be central to the process of attempting to terminate British membership of the European Union. Continue reading The light at the end of the tunnel is several oncoming trains

We have seen the future and it doesn’t work

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By Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

 

It was a favourite dictum of the late Robin Leigh Pemberton, former Governor of the Bank of England, that it was easy to predict the future but impossible to know when it would happen. Events since 23rd June have more than borne out his contention. Many who feared and campaigned against a “leave” vote last week fully expected that the reckless undertakings and contradictory aspirations of the “leave” camp would create difficulties for any government charged with implementing BREXIT. Few can have expected so rapid an unravelling of the political and economic prospectus offered to the electorate by those wishing Britain to leave the European Union. Continue reading We have seen the future and it doesn’t work

Brexit: Why the Larger English-Speaking World is Against It

Our Greatness Lies in Staying in Not Pulling out

Ira-StrausBy Ira Straus, U.S. Coordinator of the Committee on Eastern Europe and Russia in NATO, an independent policy analysis organization; and Chair of the Center for War/Peace Studies

 

Americans and Britons have a common interest in avoiding Brexit. I hope it will not be taken amiss if, as an overseas citizen of the Anglo-American world, I discuss why Americans see it that way. People around the world comment all the time on how Americans ought to vote, and we mostly take it for granted. In the days of the Empire, Brits took it for granted, too. My appeal is to that spirit, not least because I wish to discuss the matter from the vantage point of our common history and the vast inheritance we have jointly build over the centuries. Continue reading Brexit: Why the Larger English-Speaking World is Against It

London’s new mayor needs to lobby for more powers – or risk being left behind

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By Dr Andrew Blick, Lecturer in Politics and Contemporary History, King’s College London; and Senior Research Fellow at the Federal Trust

This article was first published on The Conversation.

As the new mayor of London, Sadiq Khan will gain command of a budget worth £17 billion to be spent mainly on fire services, transport and policing. He will also take on responsibilities for culture and the environment, addressing health inequalities, urban regeneration and development. The mayor also has a duty to issue strategy documents covering each of these fields, as well as performing the function of London’s police commissioner. Continue reading London’s new mayor needs to lobby for more powers – or risk being left behind

Lessons from Canada

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By Jonathan Scott,  a Canadian writer currently at Cardiff School of Law and Politics. @J_Scott_

American President Barack Obama recently made headlines arguing against a leave vote in the Brexit referendum. Obama’s remarks were the second time in recent weeks the leave campaign was put on the defensive by a North American’s comments, with the Canadian-born Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, warning in March of ‘poor economic outcomes’ should Britain vote to leave the European Union.

However, as persuasive as commentary from North American individuals might be to British voters, it is Canadian legislation that would have been better able to inform British referendum politics and should be seriously considered in future. Continue reading Lessons from Canada

BREXIT: The Northern Irish dimension

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by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

 

This article was first published on the LSE BrexitVote blog.

Much concern has already been expressed by some British commentators  about the possible implications for Scotland of a vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union on 23rd June. Less comment has until now been directed, at least on the British mainland, to the implications of such a vote for Northern Ireland. Commentators and politicians in both halves of Ireland have been less reticent. The former Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, recently warned that a British decision to leave the Union would be “negative in every way” for Anglo-Irish relations, in particular for exchanges between Northern Ireland and its southern neighbour. Continue reading BREXIT: The Northern Irish dimension

Ever closer union – neither a goal nor an aspiration, but a process

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by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

 

This article was first published on the LSE BrexitVote blog.

When the Conservative members of the European Parliament first formed in the early 1990s a joint parliamentary group with the MEPs from the European Peoples Party, there was a certain condescending expectation on the British side that their continental colleagues were in for a bracing lesson in pragmatic politics from their hard-headed British colleagues. The reality of the newly established parliamentary group could not however have been more different. British MEPs rapidly realized that their new continental colleagues conducted their business with a ruthless and effective pragmatism. If anything, it was the British wing of the newly-established parliamentary group given to ideological anguish and soul-searching. Continue reading Ever closer union – neither a goal nor an aspiration, but a process