The ICT Sector’s Brexit Priorities

2435823037_7c7598d137_o.jpgDr Elizabeth Lomas, Senior Lecturer in Information Governance at UCL, discusses some key steps to support the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector with regards to Brexit. Drawing on research from workshops and surveys, this post captures key actions and requirements for the sector. It makes the case that governments need to work more openly with ICT experts to ensure that laws are optimised for the sector and there are more targeted policies and funding strategies to support and grow ICT.

This blog is based on research exploring perspectives on the needs of those working across the information/ICT domain in order to respond positively to the changes triggered by Brexit. The work has been undertaken by Dr Elizabeth Lomas, UCL, and Professor Julie McLeod, Northumbria University. Data was gathered through two global surveys. The first was launched immediately after the Brexit referendum and obtained 733 responses, with 59% being made by UK citizens. The full results and analysis of this first survey are available here.  The second survey was launched one year after Article 50 was triggered in March 2018 and obtained 245 responses, again with 59% of responses coming from UK citizens. The surveys considered both the opportunities and threats posed by Brexit. In addition, two appreciative inquiry workshops were held, the first in Newcastle on 3rd May 2018 and the second in London on 26th June 2018. At each workshop there were participants who were from the UK and beyond. Appreciative inquiry is a strengths-based approach, intended to focus only on the potential positives for change.

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Is a second referendum on Brexit possible? Seven questions that need to be answered

6993988782_6d34cf935a_o.jpgTwo years on from the Brexit vote, the benefits of a second referendum are being hotly debated. In this post, UCL’s Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick and Meg Russell identify seven questions that should be considered before parliament decides whether a second Brexit referendum will take place.

Last week a Sky poll suggested that 50% of the public would favour a three-way referendum on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. This follows calls from key figures including Justine GreeningDominic Grieve, and Tony Blair, as well as a campaign launched by The Independent for the public to be allowed a vote on the final deal. Number 10 has categorically rejected these calls, stating that there will be no further referendum on Brexit ‘in any circumstances’. Nonetheless, talk of a second referendum is likely to continue. Whether you are a supporter or an opponent of that proposal, there are some big important questions about the practicalities of such a referendum that need to be explored. This post sets out some of the most crucial questions. In further posts over the coming weeks, we will begin to explore some of the answers.

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The EU cannot give May the deal she wants without risking its own existence

EU flag ronan blog.jpgRonan McCrea argues that the UK Prime Minister does not understand the constraints on negotiations from the EU’s strength and weakness. The White Paper would threaten the fragile balance of the EU politics, making a no-deal scenario a less painful solution in the eyes of the EU leaders. 

When the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, even pessimists would not have predicted that 17 months after the British government triggered Article 50 we would still be waiting for serious negotiations to begin.

Theresa May’s enforced retreat from the moderately serious proposals in her Chequers white paper and her call for the EU “to evolve their position” show that, even at this late stage, the UK authorities still fail to understand the fundamental nature of the Brexit negotiation process.

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Second Thoughts on a Second Brexit Referendum

27240041144_189537893a_oRichard Bellamy discusses the circumstances that would allow for a second referendum to take place. Beyond the difficulties to overcome a potential “betrayal” effect, the design of this new vote would be highly controversial and it does not seem likely that Justine Greening’s system of first and second preferences would make it more legitimate in the eyes of the electorate and politicians.  

Theresa May has announced there will be no second Brexit referendum under any circumstances, prompting the wits of social media to recall her similar assurances regarding a snap election and declare that naturally there will now be one. Trying to divine what the Prime Minister really believes or wants seems a thankless task. However, a reasonable hypothesis is that she considers such a declaration as necessary to stem accusations of betrayal by the hard Brexit wing of her party, especially given some soft Brexiters and even a few Remainers also believe the popular vote for Brexit has to be honoured, and to buttress her authority to negotiate an agreement with the EU on the basis of proposals likely to win Parliamentary support. If so, two questions arise: first, does the accusation of ‘betrayal’ in the event of a second referendum have any foundation at all and second, and probably more importantly, under what political circumstances might she (or any immediate successor) be pushed into granting a second referendum?

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Exposing Populist Disunity in Europe: How the EU could find friends among enemies

European populist movements have been painted with a broad brush, but Jose Feio, Research Associate at LSE Ideas, argues that there’s daylight between them.


With populism on the rise across Europe, there is a tendency to treat the various insurgent parties and movements as equivalents. Politicians such as Guy Verhofstadt and Emmanuel Macron regularly talk about a “war” against populists and talk about these parties as if they were all cut from the same cloth. “You know the friends and allies of Mrs Le Pen”, Macron observed during the 2017 French presidential election, “these are the regimes of Orban, Kaczynski and Putin”.

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