Tag Archives: Theresa May

The case for a new British referendum on the EU is becoming unstoppable

by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

24th January 2018

 

In recent weeks, there has been widespread discussion of the possibility of a new referendum later in the year to endorse or reject the terms negotiated by Mrs May and her government for British withdrawal from the European Union. A surprising potential supporter of a new referendum has been Nigel Farage. His intervention in the debate, together with the earnest assurances of the Prime Minister that no further European consultation will take place, have convinced many observers of the likelihood, perhaps even inevitability, of a further referendum in the autumn of this year. The case for such a referendum will be strong if Mrs May succeeds in reaching an accord with her EU partners on Brexit. It will be even stronger if she fails to reach any agreement at all. Continue reading The case for a new British referendum on the EU is becoming unstoppable

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

Mrs May shuffles the cards in Florence but cannot change them

 

By Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

25th September 2017

 

The limited concessions outlined in Theresa May’s Florence speech will probably have been enough to prevent the immediate breakdown of the Brexit talks, a breakdown which seemed at the beginning of the month a real possibility. They are, however, insufficient to reassure the EU 27 that enough progress has been made in the first tranche of negotiations (covering Ireland, citizens’ rights and the budget/exit bill) to move onto the issue of principal interest to the British government: future trade relations. The difficulties Mrs. May faced within her party in the days preceding (and, not least, following) her Florence speech illuminate how politically difficult, and probably impossible it will be for her to go significantly beyond the concessions she alluded to in Italy. The speech itself moreover continues to reflect a number of the crippling fantasies and misconceptions which make it difficult for this Conservative government to limit the economic damage arising from Brexit. Continue reading Mrs May shuffles the cards in Florence but cannot change them

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

The dilemmas of Brexit have not been changed by the election

The dilemmas of Brexit have not been changed by the election

 

 

by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

13th June 2017

 

The parallels between the European referendum of 2016 and the General Election of 2017 are striking. Both were risky and avoidable events, called into being exclusively by the perceived political advantage of the Conservative Party. They were both carried out with complacent incompetence by the Prime Ministers of the day and led to precisely the opposite outcomes to those desired by Mr. Cameron and Mrs. May. Mr. Cameron’s foolishness paved the way for the potential national catastrophe of Brexit and cost him his Premiership. Mrs. May is not expected to remain long as Prime Minister after the electoral humiliation of 8th June. It is however too early to calculate with precision all the consequences of a minority Conservative government in a hung Parliament. Those who now see a possibility of “softening” or even preventing entirely the looming disaster of Brexit may be premature in their optimism. A yet more disorderly and damaging Brexit is a distinct possibility emerging from the election of 8th June. Continue reading The dilemmas of Brexit have not been changed by the election

After the election comes the painful Brexit reality

After the election comes the painful Brexit reality

 

 

by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

 

 

It should have come as little surprise that the election called by Mrs. May, supposedly to set the tone for the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, should have contained so little serious discussion of that crucial issue. Opinion polls have long demonstrated that the European Union is a matter of consuming interest only to a small portion of the electorate; the main party of opposition, the Labour Party, has naturally wished to focus its criticism of the government on policy areas in which the Conservative Party is generally regarded as weak, such as the welfare state; and the Liberal Democrats, who had entered the election campaign with high hopes of garnering an “anti-Brexit” electoral bonus, are still too politically enfeebled to be able to generate a European debate within the electoral campaign by their own efforts. It is not only Mrs. May’s European partners who are indifferent to her claim that a reinforced Parliamentary majority will help her in the Brexit negotiations. It appears the British electorate do not care much either. Continue reading After the election comes the painful Brexit reality

The Brexit election will not make Brexit easier for Mrs. May

The Brexit election will not make Brexit easier for Mrs. May

 

by Brendan Donnelly, Director, The Federal Trust

 

Announcing her decision to call for a general election in June, the Prime Minister claimed that “every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with … the European Union.”  Although she did not say so, Mrs. May reportedly also believes that an increased Parliamentary majority after the election will strengthen her hand in dealing with internal dissent on the European issue within her own party. Mrs. May’s hopes are likely to be disappointed in both cases. Continue reading The Brexit election will not make Brexit easier for Mrs. May

Pointless soft Brexit, suicidal hard Brexit

Pointless soft Brexit, suicidal hard Brexit

 

 

By Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

 

In a controversial article last week the associate editor of the Financial Times Wolfgang Muenchau asserted that after the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty it was now inevitable that the United Kingdom would leave the European Union. Those who had voted “remain” in last year’s referendum should renounce their anger at and resentment of the present government’s negotiating tactics. They could more usefully devote their energies to reappraising the unsuccessful arguments they had put forward in last year’s referendum. They could thus prepare themselves better for future debate about eventual British re-entry into the European Union.   Wolfgang Muenchau is a respected and influential commentator, but on this occasion his arguments are unpersuasive.  The fortnight since the triggering of Article 50 has shown with embarrassing clarity the frivolous and incoherent nature of the whole Brexit project. It is a strange conclusion to draw from these developments that the United Kingdom cannot in any circumstances abandon the self-damaging path on which the Conservative government, or more precisely a segment of this government’s supporters, have set themselves. Continue reading Pointless soft Brexit, suicidal hard Brexit