U.K. after the Brexit vote 2017

Written by  //  August 16, 2017  //  Europe & EU, Government & Governance, U.K.  //  1 Comment

Yes, Minister brilliant reprise
Yes Minister Brexit special – Sir Humphrey explains all
Sir Humphrey explains British foreign policy
U.K. in 2016
After the 2016 Brexit vote

16 August
Britain quells concerns about the land border that Brexit will create. In a paper to be released today, it says there should be no border posts between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where around 30,000 people cross daily without customs or immigration checks. Tightening border controls without re-igniting tensions is one of the trickiest Brexit challenges.

12 August
Tory Brexit policy is chaotic: the fightback against this stitch-up must begin at once
David Miliband
Democracy did not end in June last year. It is essential MPs have a say on the future or the country may be driven off a cliff
(The Guardian) Recent calls from Stephen Kinnock, Heidi Alexander and William Hague for Britain to embrace the European Economic Area are sensible. Nick Clegg’s point that a reformed Europe centred on the euro implies outer rings which Britain should consider also makes sense.
I never thought I would say this, but the chancellor, Philip Hammond, is also playing a valiant role. The transition he supports is vital. However, a transition postpones a rupture rather than avoiding it. Slow Brexit does not mean soft Brexit. Steve Baker, minister in the department leading the negotiations, has been refreshingly honest in saying the transition period is a “soft landing for a hard Brexit”. We have been warned.
Brexit is an unparalleled act of economic self-harm. But it was a big mistake to reduce the referendum to this question. The EU represents a vision of society and politics, not just economics. We need to fight on this ground too.
The Europe of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel stands for pluralism, minority rights, the rule of law, international co-operation – and not just a single market. In fact, the real truth about the single market has been lost in translation.
It is not just a market. It is a vision of the good society. Rights (and holidays) for employees, limits on oligopolies, standards for the environment are there to serve the vision. The single market stands against a market society.

2 August
The City’s biggest concern is the uncertainty over the future rights of EU citizens

City of London is Brexit-proof and will still lead Europe even after we leave the EU, says Economic expert
(The Sun) If you’ve listened to certain reports over the past year you’d be forgiven for thinking all our banks were about to move overseas – they won’t and here’s why
By Gerard Lyons, co-founder of ‘Economists for Brexit’
Our financial sector has two parts to it: the domestic part serving people and firms in the UK and the international component, known as “The City”.
The City is important for our economy. It creates jobs and business here and also attracts talent and investment from around the world.
The league table ranking financial centres has London as number one in the world. In second place is New York, closely followed by Singapore and then Hong Kong.
This is where London’s future competition is, not in Europe.

28 July
No Dunkirk Spirit Can Save Britain From Brexit Defeat
By Jenni Russell, journalist and broadcaster, columnist for The Times of London
(NYT Opinion) How I wish that Christopher Nolan’s new film, “Dunkirk,” had not been released at this moment in history. The reviewers have been near unanimous in their praise: searing, complex, uncompromising about the savagery of war and death. Yet the essential message of the film, with its narrative of heroic retreat in order to fight another day, cannot help but feed the national pride in Britain’s capacity to triumph eventually, no matter what the odds. …
We are a tiny island, but we are — as the prime minister, Theresa May, and leading Brexiteers have frequently assured us — the world’s fifth largest economy. That ranking has given just over half the country the false confidence that we have nothing to fear from change. The trouble with that statistic is that it obscures all the weaknesses that lie beneath the surface. We don’t have the skills, the manufacturing base, the drive or the productivity we would need to take off as an independent nation. For years, Britain’s inadequacies have been compensated for by its membership in the European Union. Now, they are about to become painfully apparent.

27 July
There is plenty of good Brexit news, we’re just ignoring it
By Kathy Gyngell
(inews.uk) From the current negotiations, doomed of course (all the cards are in the EU hands you see) to any post-Brexit Britain scenario – business, trade, travel or the general economy – the message is the same. It’s all a disaster. In fact, the apocalypse is imminent. Brexit now threatens even our very safety. One snowflake civil servant, terrified of having his “safe” space violated, reports how “it is proving worse than anyone guessed”. Is it though? Not if you look behind and beyond the headlines.

Jeremy Kinsman’s take: I think this will survive the year as the silliest piece of writing in English.
To which Tony Deutsch adds: If we could find some enthusiastic researcher, a nice compendium could be assembled with this item, press reports of German victories from Spring 1945, Orban’s press telling all about recent successes of the Hungarian economy, 2016 victories of 21st century socialism in Venezuela, The Rising Standard of Living in North Korea…. where could it all end?

22 July
Dear Leavebugs, it’s time to admit your mistake
Recklessness is all that’s open to Brexiteers now
BY Matthew Parris
(The Spectator) Cheat Parliament of its chance to vote down a deal by never reaching one. Keep your hostage in Downing Street and storm on towards the cliff edge in which we tumble out of the EU without agreement. Persuade public opinion that Brussels bullies brought us to this breakdown, negotiation is now impossible, and Britain must walk away — and damn the consequences.
Damning the consequences is all that’s open to you now. Double or quits: a reckless strategy that could destroy the Conservative party and land you in the rogues’ gallery of history, but it’s your only hope.

27 June
(NYT evening brief) the authorities have found that 95 buildings have cladding similar to what was used on Grenfell Tower. The U.S. manufacturer, Arconic, took it off the market.
We published a lengthy investigation over the weekend that showed how a regulatory breakdown led to the high death toll. Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered an investigation into cladding and insulation on high-rise towers across the country.

24 June
Cleo Paskal: Grenfell fire tragedy leads to battle for narrative
This isn’t about London’s Grenfell Tower tragedy, the horrific inferno that killed approximately 79 people, and likely more. It’s about how that tragedy is being used by a range of groups who are claiming it as part of their own pre-existing narratives. And what that shows about the state of public debate and the media in the United Kingdom.
Frankly, the situation is a mess. The Grenfell fire disaster and how it was used brings to the fore many complex issues that need addressing, or at least discussing. But it is unclear how that will happen. So, the situation is likely to continue, feeding division and hardening positions, until the next disaster notches it up one more level.

James Bartholomew: Letter to a young Corbynista
Younger voters need to be reminded what socialism in action is like
(The Spectator) I believe 20th-century history provides a graphic demonstration that socialism is an economic disaster. And after the world’s two most populous countries — China and India — permitted more capitalism in their countries, their economic performance suddenly surged. This is the main reason why the past 30 years have seen the biggest reduction in extreme deprivation that the world has ever seen.
There’s one other thing. In every single country that has become socialist and aspired to communism, political oppression has taken place.

Corbyn urges May to ‘get a grip’ of Grenfell Tower aftermath
Labour leader calls fire security a ‘nationwide threat’ while Diane Abbott says Tories offer social housing residents ‘second-class’ safety standards
Cladding on 27 tower blocks fails fire safety tests
High-rises in 15 local authority areas have failed tests prompted by Grenfell Tower blaze in which at least 79 people died
Local authorities across the country have been urgently assessing their tower blocks to establish whether any materials used are the same as or similar to those thought to have contributed to the Grenfell fire, in which at least 79 people were killed.

23 June
The problem is not tower blocks: it’s capitalism and cost-cutting
Ignore the calls for tower blocks to be pulled down in the wake of Grenfell. The real problem is safety and how willing companies are to risk lives to save money
The fact that the building appears to have met all building regulations, yet still been a deathtrap in a fire should worry us: Tim Clark at Construction News reports that fire safety experts state that if Eric Pickles had not repealed section 20 of the London Building Act in 2012, the tower would have been more rigorously assessed due to its height.

22 June
Grenfell Tower fire: Theresa May apologises for ‘failure of the state’ after widely criticised response
‘The support for the families on the ground in the initial hours was not good enough. People were left without belongings,without roofs over their heads, without even basic information about what had happened.’

21 June
Theresa May drops key manifesto pledges from Queen’s speech
Theresa May’s minority government has dropped key Tory manifesto pledges, including expanding grammar schools and revisiting the foxhunting ban, as the Queen announced a pared-down legislative programme focused on delivering Brexit.
As she formally opened what the embattled prime minister hopes will be a two-year session of parliament, the Queen set out the government’s intention to deliver eight bills necessary for Brexit – including legislation allowing Britain to determine its own immigration, customs and trade arrangements.

19 June
George Soros says poor UK economic indicators will add to the factors compelling a new approach to EU withdrawal.
Brexit In Reverse?
(Project Syndicate) Economic reality is beginning to catch up with the false hopes of many Britons. One year ago, when a slim majority voted for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, they believed the promises of the popular press, and of the politicians who backed the Leave campaign, that Brexit would not reduce their living standards. Indeed, in the year since, they have managed to maintain those standards by running up household debt.
This worked for a while, because the increase in household consumption stimulated the economy. But the moment of truth for the UK economy is fast approaching. As the latest figures published by the Bank of England show, wage growth in Britain is not keeping up with inflation, so real incomes have begun to fall.
… the BoE has made the same mistake as the average household: it underestimated the impact of inflation and will now be catching up by raising interest rates in a pro-cyclical manner. These higher rates will make household debt even harder to pay off.
The British are fast approaching the tipping point that characterizes all unsustainable economic trends. I refer to such a tipping point as “reflexivity” – when both cause and effect shape each other.
Economic reality is reinforced by political reality. The fact is that Brexit is a lose-lose proposition, harmful both to Britain and the EU. The Brexit referendum cannot be undone, but people can change their minds.

(The Economist) Britain and the EU: Divorce, proceeding
Formal Brexit talks began today amid post-election chaos. Britain’s Brexit department has just lost two of its four ministers. Nobody knows how long Theresa May will remain prime minister. But there is no doubt over when Britain is due to leave: March 29th 2019. The election gave Mrs May no mandate for her “hard Brexit”, and signs of a softer government position are appearing. But an abrupt change of policy is unlikely, writes our Brexit editor

18 June
The Grenfell protesters are right. Red tape saves lives
Chi Onwurah
Activism following events such as the Grenfell fire is not deplorable, as the Telegraph suggests, but essential. Historically, political response to needless death has advanced society

16 June
Theresa May’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire has made her position even weaker
This could prove to be the moment that May’s premiership was damaged beyond all repair.
(New Statesman) Though the Prime Minister has ordered a public inquiry, it is already clear that this travesty was utterly avoidable.
Today’s papers catalogue a litany of failings. Residents had long complained the building was a firetrap. Their flats had no had no sprinklers. The tower’s aluminium cladding was banned in the US, was deemed flammable by authorities in Germany and cannot be used in Australia. It would have cost just £5,000 more to install a fire-resistant equivalent. It is no wonder that MPs have called for corporate manslaughter charges.
Former housing minister Gavin Barwell is under scrutiny after it was revealed he “sat on” a report warning of fire safety risks in tower blocks. The tragedy has prompted searching questions on austerity and the quality of housing provision in our great cities, and as yet ministers have few answers.
Bad news begets more bad news and May has still yet to form a government. Her position was already precarious. As the government becomes a lightning rod for public anger, it may yet become untenable.

14 June
What we know so far about the London tower block fire
At least 12 people are confirmed dead as 200 firefighters tackle the blaze at Grenfell Tower in west London

13 June
Schaeuble Says U.K. Welcome Back If Brexit Was Overturned
(Bloomberg) German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that the U.K. would be welcomed back to the European Union if the British decided they no longer wanted to quit the bloc.
French President Emmanuel Macron also said the “door is open” for a return, but warned that it would be much harder to achieve once negotiations have started.
Overturning Brexit is so far not on the agenda in Britain, but last week’s shock election result has stoked speculation that May will have to moderate her approach to leaving the EU. Having lost her majority after campaigning for a stronger mandate to deliver a hard Brexit, pro-EU lawmakers have called for a rethink and advocates of a clean break with the bloc such as Nigel Farage have warned against backsliding.

12 June
Emmanuel Macron will offer no mercy to Theresa May
A swift and hard Brexit would suit France’s president
(Financial Times) The enlargement of the EU to take in the countries of the former Soviet bloc — a policy strongly supported by Britain — has diluted France’s traditional sway over the EU. But Poland and Hungary are also self-marginalising by adopting increasingly illiberal and anti-democratic policies at home.
Mr Macron had led the calls for the EU to take a very tough line with the Poles, up to and including the imposition of sanctions. With Britain out and the big eastern European countries pushed to the margins, the EU might begin to feel a little more like the original “Europe of Six” that French statesmen invented in the 1950s and which some French Europhiles are still nostalgic for.

11 June
EU threatens year-long delay in Brexit talks over UK’s negotiating stance
Theresa May to be told it would take 12 months to draft new mandate for Michel Barnier if she insists on discussing trade and divorce bill at same time
In a sign of growing impatience with the shambolic state of the British side of the talks, senior EU sources said that if London insisted on talking about a free trade deal before the issues of its divorce bill, citizens rights and the border in Ireland were sufficiently resolved, it would be met with a blunt response.
“If they don’t accept the phased negotiations then we will take a year to draw up a new set of negotiating guidelines for Barnier,” one senior EU diplomat said, adding that the EU could not understand Britain’s continued claim that it would be able to discuss trade and the divorce terms in parallel.
The Royals must be celebrating!
Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain put on hold
US president told Theresa May he did not want trip to go ahead if there were large-scale public protests
Many senior diplomats, including Lord Ricketts, the former national security adviser, said the invitation was premature, but impossible to rescind once made.
Trump has named Woody Johnson, a Republican donor and owner of the New York Jets, as the new ambassador to the UK but has yet to nominate him formally.
The acting US ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, a career diplomat, clashed with Trump last week by praising Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, for his strong leadership over the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack.

9 June
Gambled and lost: Hope wins over fear in UK election
Canada’s former High Commissioner to the UK, Jeremy Kinsman, on the many lessons that should be taken from Thursday’s results: ‘Division of societies won’t work any more.’
(Open Canada) Theresa May’s “sure thing” election campaign has crashed. She turned a majority in Parliament of 17 into a minority government. It’s the worst political performance in the UK in memory. … May had called this election to exploit Labour’s disarray and to win a strong mandate with which to enter the Brexit negotiations, scheduled to start in days. She counted on a swing to the Tories of the UKIP vote whose cause had ostensibly been sated by last year’s referendum and by May’s surprisingly tough line with the EU. As elsewhere, “politics as usual” stirred resentment. People balked at the calling of an election primarily for the sake of party advantage. …
Britain is divided, more than ever, and in particular by a schism between older and younger electors. It is another message that the exiting generation cannot count on making decisions for those who are going to have to live with them.
There are other implications.
It is symbolically important to expect that one event is less likely to happen: the opportunistically extended invitation by May to U.S. President Donald Trump to pay an early state visit to the UK.
Trump’s picks in Europe have tanked: Marine LePen, and now May. Trump himself tanked in his own meetings with NATO and the G7. U.S. partners were repelled by his ignorance and mediocrity.
The UK presumption of a “special relationship” has become toxic. Trump had on the UK’s election day probably the worst day in his ill-fated presidency as former FBI director James Comey showed him up as a liar. May’s invitation to come and stay with the Queen was a rash and generally unwelcome one when it was made. It is now undo-able: there will be glasses of sherry lifted in relief at Windsor Castle.
Britain itself has been diminished by a series of major recent decisions. But this Thursday, the British spoke as a democratic people in favour of their own welfare. There is massive talent in a diverse Britain and belief in its potential. May didn’t get it or connect to it. But it will prevail.
DUP leader Arlene Foster vows to bring stability to UK with Conservatives
(The Guardian) The Democratic Unionist leader and most recent first minister of Northern Ireland, said the election in Northern Ireland, which saw 10 DUP MPs, including two new ones, elected to the Commons, was a “great result” for the union. The DUP’s “price” for propping up a new Tory government will include a promise that there will be no separate post-Brexit status for Northern Ireland, the party’s leader in Westminster has confirmed.
British voters defy the polls in a dreadful night for the Tories
(The Economist) The fallout could include the end of Theresa May, a new election and even the reopening of the Brexit decision
Theresa May has suffered a grievous blow. Having called an election to strengthen her hand, Mrs May lost her majority in Parliament. Her Conservative Party will now form a “minority government”, propped up by the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The result is a disaster for Mrs May. She chose to focus the campaign on her claim of being “strong and stable”. She emerges a diminished figure—probably irreparably so.
Jeremy Corbyn, in contrast, had a good campaign. His speeches attracted the young, who voted in droves, as well as appealing to metropolitan pro-Europeans who were strongly against Mrs May’s plans for a hard Brexit. His manifesto was festooned with far-left pledges to tax business and the rich, to nationalise the railways and utilities, and to spend lots of public money. But his message resonated with voters fed up with austerity. His success puts him and his brand of socialism firmly in charge of Labour (see article).

3 June
How UK prime minister Theresa May fumbled her own election
The surprise British election was meant to be all about Brexit, and to pitch the prime minister as the only serious leader. Now her gamble could backfire
(The Guardian) A week before a British election that was meant to be a foregone conclusion, Theresa May finds herself where no Conservative prime minister ever wants to be – neck-deep in political hot water in the genteel city of Bath.
Home to a comfortable Tory majority in the 2015 general election, this ought to be a parliamentary constituency where the passage of yet more polling should barely cause a murmur . May’s surprise decision to call another election was intended to raid deep into opposition Labour territory and bolster her narrow majority of MPs in time for forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
Instead, … [she]   has watched her 20-point lead in the national opinion polls evaporate. Now she is forced to defend stronghold seats like Bath rather than dream of a landslide victory on Thursday.
Though Brexit remains popular nationally and equally problematic for her Labour opponent, Jeremy Corbyn, he has succeeded in shifting the debate to social issues.

2 June
Finally, the ‘scaremongers’ of Brexit are being proved right
By Nesrine Malik
It’s taken a year, but as Britain’s economy slumps and inflation bites, the warnings about the costs of our vote to leave the EU are coming true
This week Britain slumped to the bottom of the GDP growth rate league table of advanced economies. Along with Italy, Britain is officially the worst performer among the G7 so far this year, held back by high inflation that is putting consumers under pressure. The cause of that high inflation is primarily the knock-on effect of the weaker pound, which dropped by 20% immediately after the Brexit referendum result last year. … the triumphalism and complacency of the Brexiters since then is a testament to how illiterate, politicised and pseudo-intellectual the whole discussion on economic impact has become. … It’s almost as if the fact that we woke up the day after the referendum to find that there was still money in the cashpoints was proof enough that it was all going to be OK. The experts were wrong!

31 May
Theresa May election meltdown? Pollsters predict Tories to LOSE House of Commons majority
(The Daily Express) The YouGov prediction would leave Theresa May with 310 MPs – 20 fewer than at the time of dissolution of the last Parliament – while Labour are set to surge from 229 to 257 MPs on June 8 election, a gain of 28 seats in the Commons.The shocking scenario could leave Theresa May’s hand weakened ahead of Brexit negotiations – or see her ousted by an opposing coalition government.

30 May

Ridiculed, reviled, resurgent … Is Corbyn’s campaign beginning to #feeltheBern?
Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders both started out as rank outsiders and have similar ideology. What do their campaigns tell us about modern politics?
Dan Roberts, who has followed both trails, compares their appeal
(The Guardian) Corbyn’s election performance next Thursday is perhaps therefore only part of the story of where the Labour party goes next. This is more than just about trying to emulate successful Sanders techniques of political organising, online campaigning and public speaking. It is about whether the British left can overcome the suspicion of working-class voters to harness the same mood of populist revolt that led to victories for Brexit and Trump – but turn it in a progressive direction.
Sanders, perhaps the only politician in the world to have done this at scale, arrives in Britain on Thursday for sold-out speaking engagements in Brighton, Brixton, Oxford and the Hay-on-Wye festival

27 May
Rod Liddle: This is the worst Tory election campaign ever
I’ve always thought that calling the election was a mistake predicated on misplaced confidence. Today, I’m even more convinced of that view.
(The Spectator) here’s why I think the Tory lead in the polls has been halved — yes, halved — despite the fact that the Labour party is led by Chauncey Gardiner out of Hal Ashby’s wonderful satire Being There.
First, the election was not wanted and is deeply resented beyond the Westminster bubble. The only people who actually enjoy elections are journos and the politically active: that leaves 97 per cent of the population who are somewhat averse, especially after a bruising referendum last year. May is resented for having foisted the election upon us, and people may be inclined to punish her for it, either by staying at home or voting against.
Second. Jeremy Corbyn is not notably less popular in the Midlands and north of the country than Ed Miliband was. And he has had a good election so far. The Labour vote remains buoyant and is growing. Don’t forget that the populist revolution we have seen here and in the US and in Europe does not come exclusively from the right.
Third. Theresa May has the personal warmth, wit, oratorical ability and attractiveness of an Indesit fridge-freezer… There is no vision, there is no chutzpah. Just the bland repetition of meaningless phrases. Corbyn is a far better campaigner.
… Fifth. The Ukip vote will migrate to the Tories en masse — but in the south, where they don’t need it. Far less so in the north and Midlands, where they do need it.

19 May
The Brexit election has become a battle for Britain’s future
By Carole Walker, political analyst who worked as a political news correspondent for the BBC
The election that was supposed to be about a single issue has instead revealed the extent to which last summer’s Brexit vote has turned British politics on its head. Party loyalties have been cast aside and many voters still define themselves on whether they voted to Remain or Leave in last year’s EU referendum.
(CNN Opinion) When British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her decision to call a general election, she said she was doing so in order to secure her own strong mandate, giving her the authority she needed to negotiate Britain’s departure from the EU.
Though Brexit has naturally dominated the campaign thus far, on June 8, British voters face a stark choice between two very different leaders with contrasting visions of the country’s future outside the EU and what role it should play in the world.
May and her main rival, left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, have both said that they will work to get a good deal with the rest of the EU.
But while May has said that no deal would be better than a bad deal, Corbyn has said that leaving without an agreement is not an option. …
But what of their wider views of Britain’s place in the world?

12 May
‘Brexit’ Imperils London’s Claim as Banker to the Planet
(NYT) Somewhere between one-fifth and one-third of London’s financial undertakings now involve clients based in Europe. Much of this business is dependent on so-called passports that give financial firms in one European Union nation permission to operate in the others. Free of a deal preserving the essentials of passport rights, many of these trades would be effectively illegal. The rules and regulatory proclivities of 27 remaining European Union nations would have to be satisfied.

4 May
Cheating Britain Out of Europe
By Jacek Rostowski former Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of Poland
(Project Syndicate) The first step in May’s strategy was to state unequivocally last summer that “there will be no early general election.” This served to prevent any mobilization of the 48% of the voters who had voted “Remain” and who, contrary to the expectations of most professional politicians, remain strongly opposed to Brexit. Had May not taken that step, a political anti-Brexit project – led by, say, the Liberal Democrats or a new center-left party – could have emerged and challenged the Conservatives for power. The result of a “Brexit election,” which took place once voters knew that Brexit really could happen, would have turned into a re-run of the referendum and could have been highly unpredictable.
But, until May’s announcement, seasoned political players, such as former Prime Minister Tony Blair, thought Brexit would be over before the next general election, so none laid the groundwork for such a project. This puts them at a severe disadvantage.
The second step in May’s strategy was to avoid any discussion of what kind of Brexit the UK should choose. Contrary to government claims, May’s goal here was not to gain the upper hand in negotiations, by keeping the EU27 in the dark about Britain’s objectives. (Britain’s ideal outcome is no secret, after all.) Instead, May’s government wanted to keep British voters from recognizing the extent to which they had been duped by the Leave campaign.
The last critical step in May’s plan to push forward a version of Brexit that British voters never wanted is to prevent a vote on the final deal. Were May to stick to the normal electoral schedule, negotiations would end just 18 months before the general election. That is not the moment when a government wants its deceit to be exposed, especially given that the agreement May reaches may well divide her own party.
By holding the election now, May is avoiding this risk. It is too late for the campaign to focus on whether to trigger Article 50. And it is early enough that voters – and even many businesses – remain unaware of what a hard Brexit will mean. In short, the British don’t yet know that they’ve been conned.

2 May
Brexit weekly briefing: has a disastrous dinner made talks about talks trickier?
As the EU27 agreed negotiating guidelines that promise pain before gain, an account of a Juncker and May meal exposes the chasm between them
(The Guardian) The EU27’s top objective is to ensure the deal Britain ends up with is worse than membership. It wants to show that leaving the bloc is not easy, and that pain (meeting commitments) must come before gain (future trade).
But the UK clearly expects to be cut some slack – partly to create scope for trade-offs between the two sets of agreements, and partly so May can be seen to be making quick progress, which could be important at home. Hold tight
The chances of talks failing are “over 50%”, EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and his team have concluded after a reportedly disastrous pre-summit dinner with May on Wednesday.

1 May
May dismisses reports of frosty dinner with EU chief as ‘Brussels gossip’
PM rejects devastating accounts of her Downing Street meeting with European commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker
According to multiple accounts of Wednesday night’s dinner, attended by May, Juncker and their negotiating teams, the prime minister’s insistence that talks about the future relationship should start early and that Britain did not owe any money to the EU under the current treaties were met with disbelief from her guests from Brussels.
“Jean-Claude Juncker’s answer was calm and sarcastic,” a source with first-hand information of the meal told the Guardian. “He turned to Michel Barnier [the EU’s chief negotiator], then to Ms May again, and said that contrary to his expectations the next 23 months might be extremely calm in terms of negotiation. He made clear there was no point in having even a first meeting unless the UK accepted the wording of the treaty and the political reality of a united EU27.”

25 April
George Monbiot: If ever there was a time to vote Labour, it is now
I’d rather live with Jeremy Corbyn’s gentle dithering in pursuit of a better world than give May a mandate to destroy what remains of British decency
Yes, Jeremy Corbyn is disappointing. Yes, his leadership has been marked by missed opportunities, weakness in opposition and (until recently) incoherence in proposition, as well as strategic and organisational failure. It would be foolish to deny or minimise these flaws. But it would be more foolish still to use them as a reason for granting May a mandate to destroy what remains of British decency and moderation, or for refusing to see the good that a government implementing Corbyn’s policies could do.
Of course I fear a repeat of 1983. But the popularity of Corbyn’s recent policy announcements emboldens me to believe he has a chance, albeit slight, of turning this around. His pledge to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour is supported by 71% of people, according to a ComRes poll; raising the top rate of tax is endorsed by 62%.
Labour’s 10 pledges could, if they formed the core of its manifesto, appeal to almost everyone. They promote a theme that should resonate widely in these precarious times: security. They promise secure employment rights, secure access to housing, secure public services, a secure living world. Contrast this to what the Conservatives offer: the “fantastic insecurity” anticipated by the major funder of the Brexit campaign, the billionaire Peter Hargreaves.
Could people be induced to see past the ineptitudes of Labour leadership to the underlying policies? I would argue that the record of recent decades suggests that the quality of competence in politics is overrated.
Blair’s powers of persuasion led to the Iraq war. Gordon Brown’s reputation for prudence blinded people to the financial disaster he was helping to engineer, through the confidence he vested in the banks. Cameron’s smooth assurance caused the greatest national crisis since the second world war. May’s calculating tenacity is likely to exacerbate it. After 38 years of shrill certainties presented as strength.
The choice before us is as follows: a party that, through strong leadership and iron discipline, allows three million children to go hungry while hedge fund bosses stash their money in the Caribbean and a party that hopes, however untidily, to make this a kinder, more equal, more inclusive nation.

18 April
The UK’s snap general election is an opportunity to argue about Brexit all over again
(Quartz) If we go by the polls of voting intentions, May’s Conservative Party looks set to increase its majority in parliament—it currently holds 330 seats in the 650-member parliament, and poll projections imply that it could gain 50 more in the upcoming vote. That, in theory, would give May a more solid base from which to steer Brexit negotiations in the direction she wants. In reality, nothing is certain in today’s volatile political environment. This is where the main opposition parties stand on Brexit, and how they could thwart May’s plans as the negotiations with Brussels begin in earnest.
Labour MPs gloomy as Tory excitement mounts at party meetings
(Sky News) Conservatives chant “five more years!” at a 1922 Committee meeting but Jeremy Corbyn receives half-hearted applause from his MPs.

11 April
Will London Fail?
Modern London thrives on the idea that one city can be a global melting pot, a global trading house, a global media machine and a place where everyone tolerates everyone else, mostly. The thought is that being connected to the rest of the world is something to celebrate. But what happens to London when that idea unexpectedly falls away?
It is strange, the bustle. Construction crews are still putting up buildings, monuments to London’s future, as if nothing has changed. But you can hear faint footsteps, too. Banks, investment firms and other companies are making contingency plans to move elsewhere, if necessary. What then?

3 April
Brexit: From non-issue to big deal
(The Economist) Last week David Cameron claimed that he had to hold a vote on Britain’s EU membership because the issue “had been poisoning British politics for years”. But a recent poll shows that Britons were unbothered by European matters before the vote was announced. Far from settling some burning national question, the referendum turned a non-issue into one which really could poison the country’s politics for years, writes our Britain editor

31 March
The EU made its first move in Brexit talks. The bloc issued draft guidelines on how it wants to negotiate Britain’s “orderly withdrawal” from the union, two days after the UK officially triggered the exit process. Brussels is not messing around: it insists that Britain respects the EU’s freedom of movement rules during the two-year talks and says the terms of divorce must be settled before any discussion of post-Brexit trade can begin.

Chris Patten: Britain’s Messy Divorce
(Project Syndicate) May’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, argues that the cards are in our hands in these negotiations, because Europeans want to continue selling – Prosecco, for example – to us. But anyway, May’s ministers say, it doesn’t matter if we have no deal at all. We will simply walk away. No deal would not necessarily be a bad outcome, they insist, because the world is eager to do more business with us, which will be cheaper in the future as sterling continues its steady decline.
All of this, to return to the word May won’t use, feels like a rather unamicable divorce. Every twist and turn in the talks will be accompanied by xenophobic outrage on the right wing of May’s Conservative Party and in the tabloid press to which she is now so beholden.
It is bad enough that we are setting about wrecking our economy, which will make the poor poorer and even the enterprising more vulnerable. On top of this, we are overturning many of the rules and conventions of our parliamentary democracy, which should encourage the search for consensus and compromise, and shun majoritarianism.

30 March
Doug Saunders: Why Brexit is unlikely to deliver what supporters believed they voted for
(Globe & Mail) As a legal act, Britain’s divorce from its 27 neighbours and key trading partners is now under way. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May served notice of separation from the European Union.
As a practical outcome, however, Brexit will be very unlikely to deliver any of the things its supporters believed they had voted for.
Even if Ms. May’s pro-Brexit government stays intact through the two years of exit negotiations, the real meaning of Brexit will not be defined until Britain negotiates and signs a post-Brexit agreement with its neighbours. This will take years (the Canada-EU trade deal took more than a decade and is still not ratified): Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, made it very clear that Britain may not begin negotiating its future relationship until exit negotiations are finished in 2019. And the proposed resolution the European Parliament will vote on next week forbids Britain from negotiating free trade with any non-EU countries until it has left the union two years from now (or else it will lose its right to negotiate a deal with Europe). Globe editorial: Britain leaves the Brexit starting gate, limping badly

29 March
Brexit, no sector left unscathed
How Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will affect every policy area from fisheries to transport.
(Politico.eu) Brexit threatens to wreak havoc in many of Europe’s biggest sectors, throwing doubt on everything from fish supplies to greenhouse gas-cutting measures to student exchange programs.
While British Prime Minister Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50 Wednesday will mark the beginning of the U.K.’s negotiations with the EU, it does little to answer the endless questions that the U.K.’s departure raises for Europe’s regulatory and trade landscape.
Much of that will depend on just how deep the split between the U.K. and the European single market will be. Whether you’re talking banks, farmers, energy suppliers or airlines, the preference is almost invariably the shallower the better.

28 March
Article 50 author Lord Kerr: I didn’t have UK in mind
The EU’s divorce clause was designed amid concerns about a “dictatorial regime.”
(Politico.eu) The man who wrote Article 50 did not imagine his own country would be the one to use it.
Veteran British diplomat John Kerr — now Lord Kerr of Kinlochard — drafted the text that sets out the procedure for leaving the European Union as part of an effort to draw up an EU constitutional treaty in the early 2000s.
From dreaded possibility to looming eventuality — Brexit is here: Nahlah Ayed
Threat to freedom of movement sows panic everywhere from health services to music industry
(CBC) On Wednesday, Brexit is definitively moving away from dreaded possibility, to looming eventuality. … — it is a broadside that will spare no one.

At the heart of those fears is the expected withdrawal from a single market that allows for the free movement of goods, services, capital — and crucially — workers.
Shake-up has started
In the wake of a Brexit vote that was strongly motivated by concerns over the movement of migrants, the prime minister has already made it clear Britain’s participation in the single market will not survive Brexit negotiations.
Now, as official notice of Brexit is given, the feared consequences are already being felt: some of those directly affected aren’t waiting to find out what happens, and are moving on. Some are not coming to begin with. Both have started causing problems here.

18 March
(Quartz) The British prime minister, Theresa May, campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU. Now she’s in charge of taking it out, while strenuously insisting that a “global Britain” is better off severed from its largest trading partner.
Just beginning Brexit has wreaked havoc. May has shuttled back and forth through courts and parliament to try to wrest control of the Brexit process and subsequent negotiations. She’s been forced to share some power with MPs but won’t stand for party dissent; last week she fired Michael Heseltine, a government adviser and former deputy prime minister, for rebelling.
Meanwhile there’s trouble in the regions. May has just denied Scotland a second independence referendum. How she’ll convince the Scots that splitting from their largest trading partner (England) is a disastrous mistake while cheering the benefits of the UK splitting from the EU is unclear.
Then there is the matter of governing everything else about the UK. Last week’s budget contained just one notable item, a tax increase on the self-employed. That seemed like a smart effort to prepare the UK for the future. But resistance within May’s Conservative party killed the plan within a week. “A screeching, embarrassing U-turn,” as one politician called it.
All of these fumblings would be of parochial interest were Brexit not such an era-defining challenge. The UK needs skill and steel to succeed. Don’t be fooled by their Oxford educations and posh accents—Britain’s leaders are flailing just as alarmingly as their US counterparts.

15 March
Great Britain was never truly post-colonial—and Brexit proves it
(Quartz) The story of modern Britain is, in many ways, a tale of dwindling self-regard. In the late 19th century, old Blighty had a pretty clear sense of its place in the world. We were rulers of the waves, the cradle of the industrial revolution, and on our way to creating the largest empire in history.
But within a century, the shape of global geopolitics shifted. Humiliated by the 1956 Suez Crisis, and with its empire fragmenting, Britain’s propensity for chest-beating subsided. In time, a less bellicose country would emerge—wryer, more self-aware, and chastened, perhaps, by the guilty knowledge that its success-story was built on exploitation and conquest.
Recently, however, the language of British exceptionalism has resurfaced. On March 6, an article in The Times newspaper revealed that government officials are formulating a blueprint for “Empire 2.0.” It remains unclear whether the terminology is genuine. (Some have claimed the leak was an act of sabotage by disgruntled civil servants.) But the contentious rhetoric has inevitably played into conversations about Brexit—specifically how Brexit support is sustaining itself through appeals to dormant patriotism.

13 March
Parliament has passed the Brexit bill and opened the way to triggering article 50
(Al Jazeera) Peers accept MPs’ decision to reject amendments aimed at guaranteeing rights of EU citizens and meaningful vote on final Brexit bill
it has triggered a lot of other things including reaction from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Scottish independence: The other union fractures
(The Economist) On Monday Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said she would seek a second referendum on Scottish independence, less than three years after Scots voted to stay put. Westminster is unlikely to refuse. Once again a prime minister risks presiding over the break-up of the United Kingdom. And this time it is against the backdrop of Brexit, which Scots overwhelmingly voted against, writes our Britain home affairs correspondent

1 March
Theresa May faces likely defeat in Lords over rights of EU citizens
Peers support Labour amendment to Brexit bill to protect European residents in UK after article 50 is triggered
(The Guardian) Peers are lining up to support a Labour party amendment – which now has the formal backing of a Conservative, a Liberal Democrat and a crossbencher – calling on ministers to bring forward proposals to protect Europeans resident in Britain within three months of article 50 being triggered.
Losing a vote during the committee stage in the House of Lords means the Brexit bill will have to enter a so-called ping pong between the Houses of Commons and Lords, delaying its passage into law by at least one week.

17 February
Tony Blair is right on Brexit. Now he should get into the trenches or back off
If the former prime minister wants to return to British politics, here is how he should do it
(The Economist/Bagehot’s notebook) TONY BLAIR’S speech on Brexit on the morning of February 17th attracted a predictable storm of derision. Today the former prime minister serves as a sort of Rorschach test for whatever irks the viewer: to the left he stands for free-market capitalism and war, to the right he stands for a hyper-metropolitan internationalism, to some of his former acolytes he stands for how not to secure one’s political legacy after leaving politics. In parts of Westminster and Fleet Street voicing nuanced opinions about Mr Blair meets with a mix of bafflement and distaste.
To be sure, some of the criticism is valid. … Yet the shame of all this is that it detracts from the many things Mr Blair says that are worth heeding. He may have been out of British politics for a while … but he remains the most successful British politician of the past two decades.
… Mr Blair set out frankly, accurately and crisply the realities and contradictions that today’s political leaders prefer to sweep under the carpet, or refer to only opaquely: people did vote on Brexit “without knowledge of the full terms”; its execution will starve other public priorities, like the health service, of government capacity and cash; it will imperil the union. Voters may change their views; it is their right to do so; it is up to politicians, if they think the country is making a terrible mistake, to make that case.

referendums often intensify the debates they purport to settle.

… Either he can step back out of the political limelight, and let fresher, less freighted public figures take forward his call for voters to “rise up” against the costs and dislocations of Brexit. Or, if he really wants to bring his formidable experience and skill to the task, he can clamber into the trenches and become a full participant in Britain’s domestic political contest once more: joining the melee in such a way that he gradually remakes his public image, wins credit (however grudging) for re-engaging and builds the case for a change of course on Brexit, week-by-week, battle-by-battle.

26 January
Brexit: More embarrassment than riches
(The Economist) Expect Theresa May’s visit to the White House tomorrow to be a study in awkwardness. Britain’s prime minister criticised Donald Trump before he became president; now she is desperate to line up a trade deal that can be done as soon as Brexit takes place. So scorn is out; flummery is in. Can post-Brexit Britain determine its own future? Watch Theresa May’s excruciating embrace of Mr Trump and decide, writes our British politics columnist

24 January
The UK’s supreme court ruled on Brexit. It said the government cannot trigger Article 50, which starts the process of leaving the EU, without parliament’s approval, despite last summer’s referendum in favor. But it also said the government need not consult devolved assemblies, which might push Scotland to try for independence again.

18 January
Germany plans for Brexit. A committee led by chancellor Angela Merkel will address preparations “within the federal government as well as by European institutions” ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU. The meeting comes a day after British prime minister Theresa May laid out a 12-point list of objectives for Brexit, bringing some much-needed clarity on what it will entail.
Keir Starmer: Theresa May’s Brexit plan has potentially disastrous gaps in it
The prime minister’s speech brings into question her commitment to a whole host of social, economic and workplace rights. Labour will fight to protect them
In my Bloomberg speech last December, I attempted to put Labour’s position succinctly by focusing on function not form.
I indicated then that Labour would push for a Brexit model that maintains and protects our ability to successfully trade goods with and deliver services to the EU.
I spelt out what that meant: a model that ensures continued tariff-free trade for UK businesses with the EU; a model that ensures any new regulatory frameworks do not add bureaucratic burdens or risk harmful divergence from the EU market; a model that protects the competitiveness of our services and manufacturing sectors; and a model that ensures that existing protections at work provided by the EU are maintained.
Theresa May’s Brexit speech: what the national newspapers say
PM’s words cause unsurprising joy in pro-leave papers while pro-remain media question her interpretation of her mandate

17 January
Brexit: Eating the cake
(The Economist) Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, confirmed in a speech today that Brexit will mean leaving the EU’s single market and customs union. She envisions in their place a free-trade treaty and a limited customs agreement. It is clear that Mrs May interprets the result of the referendum as a vote for lower immigration. If the price is economic pain, so be it. The British economy is in for a rough ride, writes our British politics columnist
May can think big all she likes. Britain’s about to find out just how small it is
Rafael Behr
The prime minister’s speech reminded us that the UK is used to looking down on lesser powers. That perspective is unlikely to survive in the new world order
(The Guardian Opinion) The effectiveness of May’s account of future relations with the EU – no “partial membership”, no messy overlaps with the past – is its simplicity. Her Europhile critics want to talk only about complexity, which is the least catchy tune in politics. May paints Britain with the crispness of its outline restored, its place in the world made clearer by the erasure of all those fiddly lines that connect London to Brussels and then to Paris, Berlin, Ljubljana, Tallinn and the rest. She offers liberation from the need to care about Belgians.
That obligation endures whether the prime minister wants it or not. Small states will have a say in the divorce contract terms that Britain signs with the EU. Their voice will be heard in the negotiations and in chambers where the deal must be ratified. It was opposition in Belgium’s Wallonian regional parliament that nearly scuppered a Canada-EU free trade agreement last year.
theresa-may-brexit-speechTheresa May’s Brexit speech in full
Key points from May’s Brexit speech: what have we learned?
PM’s big speech has brought some clarity over the sort of deal she is seeking for the UK
We have a greater degree of clarity on what May’s Brexit objectives are, but they remain objectives. All is yet to be negotiated, and it is far from clear how much the EU 27 will be prepared to concede. So we know more about what “Brexit means Brexit” will not mean – but little, still, about what it will.
Theresa May Puts the Exit in Brexit
(NYT editorial) The prospect that Britain would remain part of the single market has been fading since Mrs. May said in October that she would demand complete control of migration from the European Union and release from the European Court of Justice.
The extent to which Mrs. May would be willing to compromise to maintain some access to the single market and to the customs union for goods was less clear. Membership in the customs union limits the ability of member countries to strike individual free-trade deals with non-European nations. So she said she wanted a deal that would allow Britain to trade freely with the world, but still have as much tariff-free trade as possible with European Union countries.
Ideally, Britain would like to have its cake and eat it, in the memorable phrase of the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson. In other words, Britain would reject what it disliked about the bloc, like freedom of movement, but keep trade unencumbered as it tried to get the best possible trading deal consistent with its other objectives.

One Comment on "U.K. after the Brexit vote 2017"

  1. Antal (Tony) Deutsch May 7, 2017 at 3:30 pm · Reply

    Re Cheating Britain out of Europe
    What continues to puzzle me is an apparent conflict between May’s long-term interest and short-term behaviour. Assume that her interest is to continue in office as long as she wishes. She will likely do well in the June election, because the issue is not a decision on Brexit and the Opposition Leader is a lost cause. For the next election, there is likely to be a more upward mobile Opposition Leader, and the Brexit consequences will, at least in part, unfold. If the latter resemble to what I think will happen, the Tories will be bound to lose, and May will be banished to the history books. Does she really want only four more, likely miserable, years? AD

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