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Category Archives: Democracy & Citizenship

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. […]

The curious path of Vote Leave

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For most people observing – including myself – the existence of two major groupings on the Leave side of the referendum wasn’t really an issue. Arron Banks’ Leave.EU hasn’t looked nearly as serious a proposition as Vote Leave, either in terms of ideological breadth or of general respectability (however you’d like to define that). Vote Leave has […]

Can the UK still play a two-level game in the EU?

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One of the staples of academic understanding of the EU is the notion of the two-level game. The idea – first articulated by Robert Putnam – is simply that there are situations where you can only understand an actor’s intentions and actions in one game/interaction if you also accept that these intentions and actions are shaped by their […]

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