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Category Archives: Democracy & Citizenship

Final mile or country mile? Getting ready for the European Council

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Just a brief post this morning, since we stand on the verge of the European Council that will sort out everything for the UK. Possibly. Or possibly not. As always, the capacity of the EU to make life even harder than it already it for itself should never be underestimated: despite no-one having a good reason to […]

The quiet before the storm

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Thanks to the foresight that all academics are blessed with, I find myself almost half the world away from the UK this week, just as everyone seems to be having a brief pause before next week’s European Council. I might pretend that my Canadian and American colleagues here on the West Coast are pestering me […]

You find rabbits in warrens, not in hats

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Despite the best protestations of senior ministers, there is a definite sense that the British government is working very hard to get a deal signed off at next month’s European Council. David Cameron’s rescheduling of a trip to Scandinavia to meet Jean Claude Juncker instead is just the latest marker of this. Part of the reason for this acceleration […]

How likely is a deal at the February European Council?

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Everyone’s favourite parlour-game – “when’s the referendum going to be?” – continues unabated, with no-one claiming the prize a mere nine months into the discussion. The combination of a British prime minister unwilling to set out very specific demands from his renegotiation, a Foreign Office apparently unwilling to commit anything to paper, plus the rest of […]

Who can you trust on the EU?

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One of the recurring themes of my posts over the years has been the need for an informed and thoughtful public debate in the UK about its place in the world. Without such a debate, it is very hard to see how the UK can ever really move out of its impasse with the EU. […]

Gear-shifting the referendum?

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Christmas is always a tricky time for politicians: on the one hand, everyone’s packed up for a break after a long autumn, but on the other, there’s usually something that needs urgent attention, like a flood. However, on balance this Christmas past has been generally quite quiet on the referendum front, before bursting back on […]

Delaying the referendum: cui bono?

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Probably the single most frustrating aspect of the EU referendum is the lack of a clear timeline. It’s frustrating for voters, who’d like to know when this is all coming to a head; it’s frustrating for the media, who’d like some notice of when to ramp up coverage; it’s frustrating for other EU member states, […]

Is Jeremy Corbyn an asset or a liability for the EU referendum?

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This is another one of those weeks that hasn’t shaped up too well for Jeremy Corbyn: between Syria and tomorrow’s Oldham by-election, the seemingly perpetual cavalcade of tricky situations and own-goals just carries on for the Labour leader. Regardless of how the Syria vote today turns out or how much of a battering the party takes tomorrow, Corbyn […]

Must…con-cen-trate…!

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Modern politics is made of moments. Brief moments. The ever-decreasing attention spans of journalists are matched those of the public, in part encouraged by politicians who want to shift the limelight on to something else. I note this without any great judgment, since I’m probably as bad as anyone else, but at the very least […]

The paranoid turn in the referendum campaign

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Not infrequently, I’m taken by the notion that the easiest way to understand the renegotiation and referendum is by thinking about how different actors can best use it to their long term advantage. The substance of the issues isn’t really the point, but rather the opportunity offered to improve one’s position, both absolutely and relatively. […]

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