Tag Archives: Brexit

The Brexit Revolution Eats Its Conservative Parents

by Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

9th July 2019

Much justified criticism has been heaped upon Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt for the unrealistic European policies they have promised the Conservative membership in the current leadership contest. It is not however always sufficiently understood how necessary such unrealistic promises are in order to win over the current Conservative membership; and how important these promises will be, once given, for the European policies pursued in government by Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt.

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After the fall: governing the UK in the post-May era

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

13th June 2019

By the end of July, at the latest, the Conservative Party will have a new leader. That person, it is widely assumed, will also be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK). Who they are and the terms on which they ascend to and exercise their office will have substantial consequences for the future of the UK and its relationship with the European Union (EU). The following paper considers the form which that leadership is likely to take and the implications from the perspective of Brexit. It then asks what constraints that new office-holder will be subject to. It considers the extent to which Parliament will be able to impose itself upon the government and achieve a different approach towards the EU, if it wishes. Finally, it discusses other means by which those within Parliament and beyond might try to alter the course taken by the UK under the successor to May.

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The European Elections: Signs of things to come for Brexit

by Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

31st May 2019

The European Elections mark an important watershed in the Brexit process. They show that the Conservative Party will never accept a negotiated Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union; made a General Election later this year considerably more likely; moved the Labour Party several steps along the road towards supporting a new European referendum; and give good hopes to campaigners for a People’s Vote that such a referendum can be won for “Remain.” None of these are happy outcomes for the departing Theresa May. It is easy to understand why she viewed with such horror the insistence of the European Council in March that European Elections should take place this year in the UK.

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After Theresa May the deluge

by Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

20th May 2019

Theresa May’s decision to hold a Parliamentary vote in the week beginning 3rd June on the Bill implementing the Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union will have two probable consequences. First, it will provide her with a brief respite after the (likely) catastrophic Conservative results in the European Elections. Last week, the executive of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs agreed to wait upon the result of the Parliamentary vote before pressing further for the Prime Minister’s resignation.

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European Elections in the UK: A Brexit turning-point?

by Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

17th April 2019

It is easy to sympathise with last week’s reluctance of President Macron and other EU-27 leaders to endorse an extension of the Article 50 Brexit negotiations until the end of October 2019. There is a real chance that in six months the present bad-tempered and confused impasse in the House of Commons will still be in place. Brexit has created for the British political system a series of intractable dilemmas that will be no more attractive or easily resolved over the coming months than they are now.  The European Council of mid-October may be confronted with a very similar menu of Brexit options to those it considered last week.

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BREXIT AND PARLIAMENTARY ‘SOVEREIGNTY’

by Dr Andrew Blick

Senior Lecturer in Politics and Contemporary History at King’s College London; Senior Research Fellow at the Federal Trust

10th April 2019

Parliamentarians are seeking to exploit in the Brexit negotiations what they believe to be an incontrovertible, though normally only latent, power over the government. On Monday they passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill 2017-19, which received Royal Assent and became the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019. It was designed to force the government to seek an extension to Article 50, and to require parliamentary approval for the length of the delay requested by the government. The government was obliged by the Act, the day after it was passed, to table an amendable motion enabling the Commons to instruct it to seek an extension to a date of the Commons’ choosing. On Tuesday, the UK government obtained approval for its plan to seek an extension to 30 June. But is this legislation really the assertion of parliamentary authority it might seem to be? Continue reading BREXIT AND PARLIAMENTARY ‘SOVEREIGNTY’

Only a national government can prevent “no deal” Brexit

by Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

28th March 2019

At the time of writing it seems unlikely that the Withdrawal Agreement will be accepted by Parliament on 29th March, the day originally set for the UK to leave the EU. Parliament has decided that in these circumstances it will hold a further round of voting on 1st April, in the hope of arriving at a consensus on Brexit after the indecisive votes of 27th March. It is entirely possible that on 1st April a majority of the House of Commons will vote for permanent British membership of a Customs Union with the EU or for a further referendum. This will bring great political satisfaction to those MPs who since the beginning of the year have been arguing that Parliament should “take control” of the Brexit process.

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BREXIT: “No Deal” is still on the table

by Brendan Donnelly
Director, The Federal Trust

18th March 2019

UPDATE 25/03/19:
Last week the European Council gave the United Kingdom two further weeks to come up with a plan for avoiding a “no deal” Brexit. It is now up to Parliament to adopt such a plan and make the government adopt it too. If this government remains set on “no deal,” Parliament needs to replace it.


It is frequently claimed that the central flaw of the 2016 European referendum was its failure to clarify the nature of the Brexit for which Leave voters were voting. There is some truth in this analysis, but it does not precisely capture the inadequacy of the result as a basis for subsequent action. Many, probably most, Leave voters had a clear idea of what they thought they were voting for: maintenance of the economic benefits of EU membership, coupled with the disappearance of the legal and political obligations arising from that membership. The Leave campaign spent much time and effort presenting this seductive and dishonest prospectus to the electorate. Indeed, they would not have gained their narrow victory if they had spoken frankly of the unwelcome trade-offs that would inevitably accompany Brexit.

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Parliament: sovereign or supine?

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

8th March 2019

Parliament, it might be tempting to believe, can now seize control of the Brexit agenda. But a closer examination of the present political environment reveals a picture less flattering to the heart of representative democracy. The Commons will indeed be asked to vote on one or more propositions next week. First, does it accept whatever revamped exit deal the government may obtain from the EU? If not, second, does it want to leave without a deal? If not, then, third, does it want the government to seek an extension of Article 50? MPs may also vote on whether or not they want a second referendum.

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