John Roberts

  • Theresa May’s Last Chance

    British Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled on May 21 a supposed new deal for Britain’s departure from the European Union that looks remarkably like the deal Parliament has already rejected three times.

    There were some important differences, the most notable of which is that May was outlining an actual government bill to implement Brexit whereas previous votes were rejections of the specific Withdrawal Agreement which the prime minister agreed with the European Commission last November.

    There were also some olive branches to the opposition Labour Party, notably concerning options for Parliament to consider two key demands ­– a customs union with the European Union (EU) and a referendum on any deal approved by Parliament – made by Labour negotiators in recent cross-party talks. She also repeated previous pledges when she said the bill would include provisions to align workers’ rights and environmental protections with those of the EU.


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  • A Political Death Warrant for Theresa May – and Brexit?

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has effectively signed her own political death warrant. The question now is whether she has also signed the warrant for the death of Brexit.

    After weeks of stagnation and accusations that Britain had a zombie government and parliament, suddenly everything is moving again at almost lightning speed. 


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  • A Little Knowledge on Brexit

    At last we know something. The United Kingdom will not be crashing out of the European Union on April 12 and it will take part in the European elections on May 23. But that’s about the extent of our knowledge. We still do not know how, or when, or even whether, Britain will make its exit from the EU.  Nor can we be sure that anyone elected to the European Parliament in May will actually take their seats when the new Parliament opens for business on July 2.

    Those are the main conclusions from the European Summit that ended in Brussels in the early hours of April 11. Officially, the UK was given until October 31 to get its act together or, in Brussels-speak, to gain an extension to the Article 50 process under which it is supposedly quitting the EU.


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  • Brexit Breaks Britain’s Parties

    Britain’s political structures are falling apart and, ironically, nothing illustrates this better than the fact that the leaders of its two biggest political parties are supposedly seeking to cooperate to deliver something that they once campaigned to oppose: Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

    Prime Minister Theresa May leads a Conservative Party whose members of parliament overwhelmingly oppose any Brexit deal she might be able to strike with opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. As for Corbyn, while most of his MPs might just support a May-Corbyn Brexit deal if it guaranteed continued membership of a customs union with the EU, a rump element remains fiercely opposed to any such outcome.


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  • Theresa May’s Poisoned Chalice

    British Prime Minister Theresa May on April 2 held out a poisoned chalice to Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn, inviting him to sit down with her to craft a way out of Britain’s Brexit crisis.


    Corbyn is not likely to accept the prime minister’s invitation unconditionally, since it would risk splitting his own Labour Party at the very moment when opinion polls are indicating that it appears to be moving ahead of May’s fiercely divided Conservative Party.

    His immediate reaction was cautious, in keeping with a man who does not want to see Labour tarnished with the reputation of being the party that delivered Brexit for the Conservative government. He was pleased, he said, that the prime minister was now “prepared to reach out.”


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  • Theresa May's Day of Ignominy

    For British Prime Minister Theresa May March 29, 2019, is the date that will live in ignominy. She promised to deliver Britain’s exit from the European Union on this day and, instead, suffered the humiliation of seeing Parliament reject her plans for a third time.

    The fifty-eight-vote defeat means that while nothing is clear concerning Britain’s future relations with the EU, May’s own future is settled. She has none. It is as dead as Monty Python’s parrot. It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain, and joined the bleedin' choir invisible. She is an ex-premier. 


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  • LBJ’s Harsh Lessons for Theresa May

    Former US President Lyndon B. Johnson bequeathed two definitive political lessons: learn to count and don’t tell the world you’re quitting. British Prime Minister Theresa May sought to prove on March 27 that she had finally learned the first lesson, only to demonstrate she had palpably failed to understand the second.

    She intimated that she would stand down as prime minister as soon as Britain left the European Union in a bid to win back support in her own fiercely divided Conservative Party, a last gasp gamble which, if it succeeds could see Britain leave the EU and May leave her office at No 10 Downing Street on the same day: May 22.


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  • In Britain, Parliament Sidelines Theresa May on Brexit, But Uncertainty Still Rules

    The British Parliament has taken control of the Brexit process. Or has it? The result of a crucial parliamentary vote on March 25 is that Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has only temporarily been sidelined in its efforts to control the Brexit process, and that, in the long run, it may be up to the British people to determine the ending of the whole sorry saga.


    The immediate result of the parliamentary votes on March 25 is that the House of Commons will debate a series of possible options for Britain’s future relations with the European Union (EU). These debates will start on March 27 and may well continue the following Monday. (It will not have escaped our keen-eyed readers that the following Monday is, of course April 1, better known as All Fools’ Day).


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  • Decision Time for Brexit, But Not Quite as Planned

    Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU) will not take place on March 29, as British Prime Minister Theresa May has promised on countless occasions in the past two years. But a week which has seen the EU wrench the Brexit timetable from May’s hands will still be followed by one which could well set the course for Britain’s relations with Europe for generations to come.

    It is not just the decisions taken by the European Council, comprising the EU’s heads of government, that has so transformed the atmosphere. On March 20, May appealed over Parliament’s head to the British people. But the result was that she entirely lost her authority in Parliament itself, ensuring that it will be the House of Commons, and not her own government, that now has effective control of the Brexit agenda.


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  • Nazarbayev’s Gift to Kazakhstan: An Orderly Transition?

    President steps down after almost thirty years in office

    By resigning from the presidency after almost thirty years, Nursultan Nazarbayev may have given his greatest gift to Kazakhstan: a peaceful transition to a new generation following nearly three decades of stability—a stability that was likely solidified by Nazarbayev’s willingness to commit human rights abuses and corruption.

    Nothing should be taken for granted. In general, transitions in the former Soviet Union have proved difficult, sometimes involving revolutions, internal coups, and last-minute changes in the succession before the new leader takes control.

    But although Nazarbayev effectively became president-for-life in 2007 when he secured a right to contest presidential elections indefinitely, he has in fact been planning carefully for at least twelve years to ensure a smooth transition in the event of his retirement or death in office.


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