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Stasis and progress

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Somewhere in Whitehall, there’s a small office. In it, a bright young thing is working hard on Brexit. As the afternoon sun bounces down to the tiny window that provides the only fresh air, a spark flares up in the bright young thing’s mind. They dash down the corridor to their line manager, bursting through […]

Who can and will crash the Brexit bus?

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As we enter a period of heightened debate about customs arrangements, it’s useful to consider who holds what power in the Article 50 process. As rational choice bods like to tell us, the more people who hold vetoes, the harder it is to please them all and more chance there is of non-agreement. However, in […]

Extending Transition

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I’m being a bit of a dog with a bone on this one, mainly because no one else seems terribly interested in it. As I’ve discussed before (here and here), the transition phase of withdrawal from the EU has been taken as a given. All parties were happy to sign up to the March text, it’s all […]

Control in theory and practice

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Two weeks away from all this Brexit stuff has been very pleasant, especially now the sun’s come out too. Naturally, part of me worries that everyone else has had a fortnight off, which is A Bad Thing when running a fixed-timetable negotiation, but there you go. To ease us all back into things let’s try […]

Spring: the season of fig-leaves

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So, for all the worrying, it looks like tomorrow’s Art.50 European Council will be a procession. The draft Withdrawal Agreement is 75% green, transition agreements are all in place and the events in Salisbury have reminded everyone that there are good external reasons to get on with each other. Of course, it’s not nearly that simple. The Irish dimension […]

Dull, but important

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Yesterday I was speaking at an event in Portsmouth. The subject was Brexit, naturally, but with a mix of activists and academics. One theme that came up was a view from a former UKIP councillor to the effect that’ things could be worked out’ on the future relationship. We did pick this up after the […]

Why cake is going to stay on the Brexit menu

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The optimistic view of the round of speeches over the past weeks that culminated in Theresa May’s contribution at Mansion House is that the UK is finally confronting the consequences of the EU referendum. With both government ministers and Jeremy Corbyn devoting time to discussing and debating in more detail, this might be the point […]

Nothing has changed

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A good rule of thumb is that when you’re in a hole, you stop digging. Unless, of course, you’re in the tunnelling business. The British government is very much not in that line of work – such things being outsourced – so the rule would seem to apply in spades. And yet is spades that […]

Can you tell what it is yet?

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As a child, I used to like watching a TV programme where a bearded Australian would talk about some cartoons that he was going to show, hurriedly sketching a character in some dynamic pose. Part of the fun was the way he caught the characters’ essence: distilling them into a single image. Of course, this […]

Nothing is agreed

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I think I’ve discovered a new condition. I’m calling it Maioaviophobia, or a fear of Theresa May getting on a plane. Somehow, it’s taken until now to notice that it’s the flights that seem to produce the most erratic political behaviour from the Prime Minister. Just think back to that walking holiday last Easter, or […]

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