Ideas on Europe

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Author Archives: PoliticsatSurrey

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 […]

Deeds, not words: getting ready for the next stage of Brexit

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The torpor of summer is crawling across Europe: the siren call of that holiday you’ve promised yourself all year grows ever louder, even as your workplace empties. So what better time of year to be kicking off what prove to be a decisive stage in the Brexit process? Next Tuesday, we’ll find out who has […]

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 […]

Notes from a crisis: the summer edition

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When I teach about negotiation, I sometimes get students to think about negotiators as represented in films. Pretty much invariably, that means a grizzled pro, who doesn’t play by the rules and takes a chance to make a connection where no-one else could. Usually involving some explosions. Boringly, this isn’t how negotiators actually work. Sorry. […]

The illogic of the EU trying to keep the UK from leaving

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Foolishly, I always took Groundhog Day to be a work of fiction, rather than an instruction manual. Every morning we wake up to the same debates between the same people, who still haven’t listened to (or, more accurately, haven’t heard) those who point out obstacles in the path: we just have to become better, through force of […]

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