Tag Archives: Brendan Donnelly

Blame Brexit, not Theresa May

Blame Brexit, not Theresa May

28th November 2018

 

 

by Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

 

In the confused discussion surrounding the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration negotiated by Mrs. May with the EU 27, two particular criticisms are frequently voiced. Mrs. May, we are told on all sides, has failed to respect the result of the EU referendum of June 2016; and her failure is at least partly due to having triggered prematurely the Article 50 notification without a strategy for the negotiations. Both criticisms are unjust. The Agreement and Declaration are the logical and predictable outcome of the deluded vote for Brexit cast by 37% of the electorate in 2016; and there was no better plan available to her in 2017 or later for implementing Brexit than the path she chose. Continue reading Blame Brexit, not Theresa May

Brexit: Anything could happen in the next half year

By Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

 

 

23rd April 2018

 

Last week saw two potentially important developments in the continuing campaign against Brexit. There was a significant defeat for the government in the House of Lords on the subject of the Customs Union (CU); and a coalition of pro-European groups launched a campaign to bring about a “People’s Vote” on the terms of the EU withdrawal agreement negotiated by Mrs. May and her ministers. These can only be initial steps in a process over the coming six months whose outcome is unpredictable. The former trade minister, Lord Digby Jones, was sufficiently concerned to warn that “they will DESTROY Brexit” while anti-Brexit campaigners will certainly hope that this is one European issue on which he will turn out to be correct. Continue reading Brexit: Anything could happen in the next half year

Labour’s Brexit Options: Starmer’s Step in the Right Direction

 

By Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

 

27th March 2018

 

Last week was a difficult period for those inclined to argue that the Labour Party is or may become an effective political vehicle for opposition to Brexit. To the applause of John Redwood, Jeremy Corbyn dismissed Owen Smith from the Shadow Cabinet for suggesting that the Brexit terms negotiated by Mrs May might need to be submitted to a referendum; the Party’s Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer told the Guardian that he saw no realistic prospect of preventing Brexit from taking place in 2019; and the same Sir Keir truckled to the most vulgar forms of Eurosceptic nativism by urging that future British passports should be made by British producers, whatever the economic cost. The Labour Party seemed finally to be resolving its studied ambiguity in European policy by a more or less grudging acceptance of Brexit, with occasional attempts to outbid the Conservative government on its nationalist flank. Continue reading Labour’s Brexit Options: Starmer’s Step in the Right Direction

Is Brexit worth it, Prime Minister?

by Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

3rd March 2018

 

After her speech yesterday about the Brexit negotiations, the Prime Minister was asked by a German journalist whether she thought Brexit was worth all the effort and disruption it entailed. Although British withdrawal from the EU is probably the most important national decision taken since the Second World War and it will inevitably define the success or otherwise of Mrs. May’s Premiership, she was unable or unwilling to answer this question. Instead, she answered a different question. There was no chance, she said, of the United Kingdom’s changing its mind on this issue. For Mrs. May, in the same way as Brexit means Brexit, the UK is leaving the European Union because it is leaving the European Union. Reflections about whether this is a desirable or rational course of action are beyond her pay grade.

Continue reading Is Brexit worth it, Prime Minister?

Brexit is a blank sheet of paper that can never be filled in


by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

19th December 2017

 

The frenzied negotiations to conclude the first phase of Brexit negotiations have usefully clarified the real choices faced by the British government in the second phase. The ambiguous and variously defined terms “soft” and “hard” Brexit have outlived their usefulness. It is clear that the British government must now decide whether it wishes after Brexit to remain close to the standards and regulations of the European Union, thereby limiting the economic damage and disruption from a radical break with the Union. Or whether, on the contrary, it wishes for political reasons to facilitate this radical break, even to the extent of leaving the Union with no agreed template for future economic relations between the two sides. The vigorous debate at the beginning of December about a possible “hard” or “soft” border within the island of Ireland arose largely from the fact that the British government has not yet decided which of these two options it favours. The confused nature of the text relating to Ireland finally adopted by the EU and UK reflects this continuing uncertainty. Continue reading Brexit is a blank sheet of paper that can never be filled in

Ulster and Brexit: The shape of things to come


by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

5th December 2017

 

Even during the European referendum last year it was clear that those who wished the UK to leave the European Union fell into two quite different camps, those who wanted Brexit to mark a decisive break in the economic and social life of the United Kingdom; and those who wanted Brexit to take place with minimal social and economic disruption. This division has become more pronounced in the months since the referendum and is at the heart of the current controversy over the Irish border. This particular controversy may be resolved in such a way as to permit movement towards the second phase of Brexit talks at the European Council on 14th December. The fundamental divisions within the pro-Brexit camp can however only become more obvious and more acute in this second phase of negotiations. The debate over the Irish border may well come to be seen in retrospect as simply a precursor of other even more intractable dilemmas thrown up by the self-contradictions of the whole Brexit project. Continue reading Ulster and Brexit: The shape of things to come

“Hard Brexit or no Brexit?”, that is the question

 

By Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

1st November 2017

 

In his recent testimony to the House of Lords, Sir Ivan Rogers, former British Permanent Representative to the European Union, criticized as premature and ill-prepared the Prime Minister’s triggering last March of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This is unfair to Theresa May. No different date for the beginning of the Brexit negotiations could or would have rendered them any less painful for the British participants. No amount of extra preparation on the British side before triggering Article 50 could or would have resolved the numerous internal contradictions of the Brexit project. Continue reading “Hard Brexit or no Brexit?”, that is the question

BREXIT: Labour makes a move but is it in the right direction?

BREXIT: Labour makes a move but is it in the right direction?

 

 

By Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

1st September 2017

 

The recent article by Keir Starmer, Labour spokesman on Brexit, setting out the Party’s commitment to continued British membership of the EU single market and the customs union for a transitional period post-Brexit is a welcome and significant development in the European debate. In the short term it will give Labour a political and intellectual basis on which to criticize the government’s conduct of the Brexit negotiations, particularly in relation to the form of the transitional period to which the government is now committed. It would be overoptimistic however to claim that the Starmer initiative represents a comprehensive or sustainable approach to Brexit over the longer run. “Constructive ambiguity” stays in place, even if it is now more intelligently constructed. Continue reading BREXIT: Labour makes a move but is it in the right direction?

The Brexit transition deal debate: an exercise in futility

 

by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

15th August 2017

 

On almost every day since Theresa May went on holiday in late July, the British public has been treated to the contradictory and often self-contradictory thoughts of various ministers about the desirability, inevitability or unacceptability of a “transition” period after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. Apart from its very public and divisive nature, this debate has been remarkable in a number of respects. It is bizarre that such a fundamental discussion within government is only now taking place, more than a year after the EU referendum; the terms of the debate have remained notably confused and ill-defined; the controversy has been pursued with an insular indifference towards the views of the other members of the EU, and it is unclear towards what final goal this period of transition should serve as a preparation. This whole strange episode, which now appears to have run its course in time for the Prime Minister’s return, has reflected many of the underlying incoherent self-deceptions of the Brexit project. Continue reading The Brexit transition deal debate: an exercise in futility

No good choices for the British government in the Brexit negotiations

 

by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

20th July 2017

 

David Davis has been criticized in some quarters for spending only two hours in Brussels this week negotiating with Michel Barnier before returning hurriedly to London. This criticism is misplaced. As Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Mr. Davis needs to exercise the closest possible control on all the negotiations relating to Brexit. Most of these negotiations are currently taking place in London, within the government of which Mr. Davis is a member. The EU’s negotiators have, as is well known, been able to impose on the negotiations in Brussels a “sequencing” of topics to be discussed. Similar “sequencing” applies to the London end of the negotiations.  Mr. Davis needs to conclude his Brexit negotiations with his colleagues in London before he can rationally engage in  Brexit negotiations with Mr. Barnier.  These negotiations in London show little sign however of coming to any early conclusion. Continue reading No good choices for the British government in the Brexit negotiations