United Kingdom

  • 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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  • China Wants to ‘Divide Western Alliances Through Bits and Bytes,’ Warns Pompeo

    US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has urged the United Kingdom not to give Chinese telecom giant Huawei a role in building its 5G telecommunications network warning that China wants to “divide Western alliances through bits and bytes, not bullets and bombs.”

    In a speech in London on May 8, Pompeo also said US intelligence sharing relationships with its friends and allies are at stake. He stressed that “insufficient security will impede the United States’ ability to share certain information with trusted networks.”

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  • The Huawei Challenge

    Despite an effort by the United States to persuade its friends and allies not to use 5G wireless communications technology developed by Huawei, many will find it hard to avoid doing business with the Chinese telecom giant altogether.

    Robert A. Manning, a senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, explains: “It will be difficult to avoid licensing any Huawei or Chinese 5G technology as Chinese firms hold 37 percent of all 5G patents.”

    Huawei, for instance, said Manning, “has over 1,000 patents, so many nations and carriers may have little choice but to license some Chinese 5G technology.”

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  • Brussels Agreed to Brexit Extension to Avoid No Deal, EU Official Says

    By agreeing to extend the deadline for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) to October 31, EU leaders and British Prime Minister Theresa May “managed to avoid the most disruptive [potential] scenario, which would have been no-deal Brexit,” top European Commission official Valdis Dombrovskis said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on April 12.

    The extension, which would first be reviewed by the EU on June 30 but could last as long as October 31, would give the UK Parliament time to “reflect and work on what is really their preferred scenario,” Dombrovskis said.

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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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  • The Spark That Launched Brexit Has Returned and Could Torpedo Compromise

    The next week matters for European policy makers. EU finance ministers are meeting in Brussels on April 5 and 6. This will be followed by an emergency European Council summit on April 10 at which EU leaders will not only discuss Brexit, but also discuss the European Union’s position on negotiating a narrow free trade agreement with the United States. On April 12, European finance ministers and central bank governors will take part in important Group of Twenty (G-20) side discussions alongside the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank spring meetings in Washington. These leaders would have been focused on worrying signs of slumping global growth and trade tensions with the United States, but leaks to Reuters on April 3 suggest that policy makers are returning to another Brexit sore point: non-bank financial regulation. 

    The leaks show European policy makers are beginning to raise concerns regarding capital markets and non-bank financial institutions, most of which are located in the United Kingdom and the United States. They are also reviving a focus on euro-denominated securities, most of which are traded and settled in London.  It seems that Euro area policymakers have turned a corner and are preparing to create a framework for “future European financial sovereignty” as described in this speech today in Bucharest by the French central bank governor who is also a board member of the European Central Bank.   

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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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