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Category Archives: Current Affairs

Settling in for transition

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Transition remains the Cinderella of Brexit: unnoticed by the ugly sisters of Withdrawal and the New Relationship, but actually rather important. This might have been understandable during the chaos of the past year, when most political efforts were being diverted into securing UK ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, but it seems much less so now, […]

Brexit: What have we learnt so far?

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Last week’s election appears to be bringing the first phase of Brexit towards a close. The resounding majority won by the Conservatives sets the door wide open for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which in turn will result in the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, some four-and-a-half years […]

Brexit as a process

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So here we are. Again. It’s autumn, there’s a potential text of a deal on the table, the DUP are holding out, Tory rebels are considering their position, all while the clock ticks. Maybe we all liked it so much last year that’s why we’re doing it all over. Less flippantly, what is striking is […]

This is not the European Council you’re looking for

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So next Thursday is the crunch day for the Brexit negotiations, apparently. To listen to much of the media and many government ministers, Boris Johnson will roll up to Brussels to bang heads together and get a deal over the line. Unless, of course, he decides not to go at all. To say that the […]

Why the backstop isn’t a “bridge to nowhere”

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So now we get the proposal. Yesterday’s release of the letter to the Commission and the explanatory notes was long awaiting, albeit without much holding of breath. Number 10’s approach has long been this: to raise the fears of a no-deal outcome, then to rush in with a last-minute offer (a ‘fair and reasonable’ one, […]

Making sense of it all

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Yesterday, the European Parliament had one of its regular discussions about Brexit, following the meeting between Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Juncker in Luxembourg. As before, the Parliament passed a resolution to the effect that a deal was desirable, a no-deal was very bad, and citizens’ rights must be protected in every case. Rather than discuss […]

What would it take for a decision on Brexit to be made?

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Part of me is surprised that it took until now for me to get overtaken by events. A monastery, recently Yesterday morning I was recording a podcast outside the monastery where the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007, but by the time I could get to sufficiently useful wifi, Parliament had moved on enough […]

Another Brexit autumn

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The fitful progress of Brexit produces natural rhythms of activity. The summer lull, followed by the autumn rush/panic. Hard to believe that less than a year ago we were having the Salzburg summit and wondering whether any text of a Withdrawal Agreement could be produced at all. Simple times. And now we get to look […]

A deadline is not a policy

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There’s much to consider from Boris Johnson’s first half-day in office, but let’s focus on a central question: what is his Brexit policy? At one level, this is perfectly clear: the UK must leave the EU on 31 October, “no ifs, no buts”, ideally with a deal, but without one if necessary. But this is […]

Why von der Leyen isn’t the person to watch for Brexit policy (yet)

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Yesterday saw the first public statements from Ursula von der Leyen since her nomination as Commission President. She swept around Brussels, meeting and greeting various groups in the European Parliament, generally trying to help them accept a deal that appeared – mainly because it actually did – to pull the rug from the Spitzenkandidaten model. If most of the […]

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