Why a landslide victory might actually be a bad thing for Theresa May

If Theresa May is hoping an increased Commons majority will aid the Brexit negotiations, she is likely to be disappointed, argues Benjamin Martill, Research Associate at the UCL European Institute. 

Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election at a time when her party is riding high in the polls has been widely seen as an opportunity for her to dramatically increase her majority in the House of Commons from a slim 12 seats to potentially triple figures.

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Can the Brexit clock be stopped?

13871416034_9a074ba528_o.jpgPiet Eeckhout, Professor of EU Law and Deputy Dean, UCL Laws, and Academic Director UCL European Institute, adopts a constitutional law perspective to argue that there are numerous ways in which the two-year Article 50 clock could be stopped or extended. Not only could the decision to withdraw be revoked by the UK, but both the UK and European Parliament could ask for the negotiations to be extended. Crucially, EU constitutional law requires an orderly transition. 

The deed has been done, the letter delivered.  All over media screens the two-year clock started ticking, registering to the level of seconds the time left for Britain’s EU membership.  The point of Brexit, when by virtue of Article 50 the Treaties cease to apply, can be determined with atomic precision, so it seems.

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Now that Article 50 has been triggered, reality will start to bite

tuskFollowing the triggering of Article 50, the honeymoon period is over for Theresa May. Oliver Patel, Research Coordinator at the UCL European Institute, outlines the main challenges which the UK faces in the upcoming negotiations. He argues that securing a deal within the two period will be hard enough. Securing a deal which pleases everyone – or anyone at all – will be virtually impossible.

Theresa May has had an easy ride so far. Up until now, she has only had to worry about pleasing her core domestic audiences. Now that Article 50 has been triggered, however, reality will start to bite. The two-year road to Brexit is fraught with uncertainty, obstacles and challenges. Two stand out above all else. First, given the complexity of the task, two years is an extremely short length of time in which to negotiate and finalise the UK’s withdrawal. Second, getting a deal which satisfies everyone – the British public, the EU and its 27 member states – will be virtually impossible. Theresa May needs to negotiate with 27 other countries, each with their own interests and priorities, who arguably have the upper hand in the talks. Her task is an unenviable one.

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What will the Lords do with the Article 50 bill?

Thepalace_of_westminster_london_-_feb_2007 bill authorising the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50, enabling the UK to leave the EU, has cleared the Commons. In this post Lords expert, Professor Meg Russell, Director of the UCL Constitution Unit, discusses how the second chamber is likely to treat the bill. She suggests that this illustrates important dynamics between Lords and Commons, which are often disappointingly misunderstood both in the media and inside government.

The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill is a simple two-clause measure to authorise the government to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union and thereby begin negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU. This follows the ‘Leave’ vote in last June’s referendum, followed by the Supreme Court ruling that parliament’s authorisation was required. A previous blog considered the bill’s likely reception in the Commons, where it completed its initial stages on 8 February. Today the bill begins its consideration in the Lords, where it is due a two-day second reading debate, followed by two-day committee stage next week, and a day spent on remaining stages the week after that.

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The process of Brexit: what comes next?

wp2_arenwick_front_coverIn a new report published jointly by the UCL Constitution Unit and the UCL European Institute, Alan Renwick,  Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit, examines what the process of Brexit is likely to look like over the coming weeks, months, and years. Here he summarises five key lessons.

The phoney war around Brexit is almost over. For months, two immediate questions have dominated discussions: How can Article 50 be triggered? And what sort of deal will ministers seek? The Supreme Court’s ruling on 24 January answered the first question. We know much more now about the second through Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech and last Thursday’s white paper. The Article 50 bill is being debate in parliament. By the end of March – if the government gets its way – we will be entering a new phase in the process.

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