Beyond Brexit

  • Macron is Good and Bad News for Brexit Backers

    For anxious Britons seeking a good deal in their forthcoming Brexit negotiations with the European Union, the strong probability that Emmanuel Macron will be the next president of France is both good and bad news.

    The good news is that a Macron victory is the outcome most likely to ensure the EU remains a relatively stable and undistracted negotiating partner and a strong future ally for a post-Brexit United Kingdom (UK). In notifying Brussels of the UK's intention to leave, British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on March 29 that her government “wants the EU to succeed and prosper.”

    Anyone who feels that way can only hope that Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front party loses the second round of voting in the presidential election on May 7. A victory for Le Pen against all the odds would throw the EU into chaos,...

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  • May Hopes Snap UK Poll Will Ease Brexit

    The snap UK general election called by British Prime Minister Theresa May for June 8 is likely to strengthen her political authority and ease the tortuous negotiation of Britain's departure from the EU - provided of course she wins. All the signs are that she will.  

    The political climate is unlikely to be as favorable to May as it is now for a long time. With Brexit negotiations due to start later in June, May has a valid claim that she needs a personal and political mandate from the country to conduct the talks in the way she chooses. Equally important, much of the country has not yet woken up to the pain of Brexit that the negotiations will progressively reveal. 

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  • The Brexit Election

    British Prime Minister Theresa May’s surprise decision to call for a snap general election is a powerful admission by her government that Brexit will not be an easy process.  The next United Kingdom (UK) general election had been scheduled for May 2020, a date that would force May to campaign just as all the disadvantages of Brexit become clear. On April 18, May called for the election to be moved up to June 8, 2017. With five years allowed between elections, and assuming she wins the contest in June , the prime minister will have an additional two years—until spring 2022—to get through a difficult post-Brexit “transitional” phase before facing the voters again.

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  • Brexit Bargain Should Not Include Defense

    One might have hoped that the United Kingdom’s security relationship with Europe could be kept out of the Brexit negotiations, which will be difficult enough without an added layer of political complexity. Alas, just a week after the UK fired the starting gun on its departure from the European Union, it is already clear that this won’t be the case. The security relationship has already been politicized by Brexit, and it is largely London’s fault.

    In British Prime Minister Theresa May’s letter formally activating the EU exit process on March 29, she suggested that if an agreement couldn’t be reached between the UK and the EU-27, “cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened.” This did not go over well in Europe. The Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt,
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  • The EU Now Controls the Brexit Talks

    With the United Kingdom formally starting the process of leaving the European Union on March 29, the Atlantic Council is launching a series of blog posts that will track the course of the Brexit negotiations and the many challenges they pose for the future of US-UK relations. 

    By formally notifying the European Union that it plans to leave, London has effectively handed over control of its exit negotiations to those on the other side of the table—the EU institutions and the remaining twenty-seven member states. In diplomatic terms, the United Kingdom has become the demandeur, the one asking for favors.

    Since the referendum last June that endorsed the country’s departure from the EU, the UK has been engaged in an often-angry debate over how far it should actually disentangle itself from EU regulations and the key components of the Union, notably its single market and its customs union. 

    Many Britons have seemed to think...

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  • A ‘Strange Allegation’ About UK Spying

    Trump administration must defuse crisis with its ally, says Sir Peter Westmacott, a former UK ambassador to the United States

    US President Donald J. Trump’s support for an unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor, Barack Obama, asked Britain’s spy agency to eavesdrop on him is a “strange allegation” that “calls into question very important elements of our intelligence relationship,” said Sir Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States and a distinguished ambassadorial fellow at the Atlantic Council.

    “This sort of thing does not go on between such very close allies,” Westmacott said, adding, “the intelligence relationship between the US and UK is uniquely close and very precious. It would, in any case, be against US law for any American official to ask us to act in such a way.” Westmacott served as the UK’s ambassador to the United States from January 2012 to January 2016.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer first...

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  • Westmacott in Time: Brexit Britain and Trump’s America Can Have a Special Relationship


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  • A Muddied Road to Brexit

    The November 3 ruling by a British High Court that Parliament must vote before the British government invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has been seen by many as making it less likely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. In reality, although it may slow the process, it could also lead to a much more difficult negotiation with the other EU member states, and even increase the likelihood of a “hard Brexit” in which the UK loses access to the Single Market.

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  • Brexit Ruling is a Win for Parliamentary Democracy

    The era of “fact-free politics” just met its match, in that “facts are stubborn.”

    Populist politicians can distort much of the truth with little or no political consequences, but the British high court’s ruling on November 3 proves that for Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, and Theresa May, ignoring the reality of the United Kingdom’s constitutional order turned out to be a bridge too far.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet keeps making the point that the Brexit referendum was an exercise in grassroots democracy unprecedented in British history. But the reason for this lack of precedents happens to defeat their argument: the United Kingdom is not an Athenian, but a parliamentary democracy.

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