Since 1945 the Federal Trust has offered rigorous and well-informed commentary on Europe and the UK’s place within it. It is one of the few sources of British analysis actively favourable to the UK’s full participation in an integrated and democratic European Union.

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A Welcome Note by our Director

The vote for Brexit in the 2016 referendum was the culmination of a failed approach to British membership of the EU. This approach was based an excessive enthusiasm for opt-outs, ignorance about the Union’s institutions and exaggerated fears of the Union’s supposed centralising tendencies. It was in retrospect unsurprising that the British electorate should decide, albeit by a narrow majority, to opt out entirely of the Union and its institutions. If an arm’s length relationship was offered as the preferred model for UK/EU collaboration, perhaps a yet more remote relationship would be even more desirable.

The Federal Trust has always warned and will continue to warn against this misconceived view of the EU and the UK’s place in it. It believes that Brexit is a self-destructive and historic mistake, the consequences of which are now becoming apparent. It is a particular tragedy that the United Kingdom is excluding itself from the European Single Market, which it did so much to promote and shape. But if the damage of Brexit will initially be borne by British business, it will soon spread more widely throughout British politics and society.

The Trust’s central activity in the coming years will be to analyse and highlight these negative consequences of Brexit, consequences we believe can only be reversed when Brexit itself is reversed.  Measures falling short of renewed EU membership may palliate but can never set aside this reality. These coming years will not be easy for those who believe that this country’s place in the world is best assured by full-hearted membership of the European Union. The Federal Trust will however continue to provide a consistent forum for rational and realistic debate on European issues.  If you share our views and values, please join us.

Brendan Donnelly

Brendan Donnelly
Brendan DonnellyDirector


2511, 2020

Johnson’s Brexit Dilemma: No good outcome in sight

Shortly after the EU referendum of 2016, a “former Conservative minister” supposedly remarked that Brexit would force the Conservative Party to choose between destroying the country and destroying itself. Both the attribution and exact wording of this epigram may be questioned, but precisely this choice is the dilemma with which Boris Johnson is now wrestling.  Any arrangement he may reach with the EU will inevitably trigger another, possibly terminal bout of Conservative internal strife; “no deal” at the end of the transition period will be a demonstrable failure to protect the UK's economic interests and may well provoke irreparable fissures [...]

2011, 2020

The UK will never be ready for Brexit

The National Audit Office released last week a report on preparations for the end of the transition period after Brexit. The report was critical of the government for the inadequacy of these preparations and in particular for its failure to foresee and respond to the predictable administrative consequences of Brexit. These individual criticisms are no doubt justified, but they should not obscure the larger political and psychological factors which always made it inconceivable that the government would approach its preparations for Brexit in a methodical and coherent fashion. Increasingly since 2016, the British government has come to be dominated by [...]

1911, 2020

Biden changes the Brexit options

Biden and the U.S. Congress are dead set against a no-deal Brexit. The Irish lobby isn’t just strong at this time; Biden as an Irish Catholic fully identifies with it. They will not give the UK a trade deal unless the agreement with the EU on Northern Ireland is fully complied with. Biden will inevitably send the UK to the back of the line for a separate trade deal, unless the UK reaches a strong EU-UK trade deal first. A no-deal Brexit, or pseudo-deal Brexit, will scupper the chances for any US-UK deal to bail out the UK economy, or [...]

911, 2020

Get ready for friction?

Political slogans, by their nature, often tend to over-simplify or even deceive. This tendency is presumably eternal and certainly preceded the Brexit experience. However, the insistence on certain questionable mantras has been exceptionally prominent to the project of removing the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). They have involved assertions about dubious sums of money or vague concepts of ‘taking back control’. Other words and phrases that were either empty or proved to be false have included ‘Brexit means Brexit’; the idea of retaining access to the Single Market on the ‘exact same terms’; and the ‘oven ready’ [...]