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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Brexit Endgame: Uncertainty Mounts in Face of Deep Tory Divides


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What, if anything, could still derail the Brexit process in the coming months? Kirsty Hughes thinks the biggest political crisis might be yet to come as the negotiations unfold. Particular stumbling blocks include Northern Ireland and the future customs arrangements.

With just six months to go to finalise the Brexit withdrawal agreement, the watchword most frequently heard around Whitehall and Westminster is ‘uncertainty’. The cabinet are at daggers drawn over the future customs relationship with the EU – a row that pays little attention to what the EU might agree to. And there is no visible progress on the backstop that would allow Northern Ireland to keep the border open whatever the future relationship. Continue reading

Post-Brexit Trade Relations: No Middle Way Between Free Trade Agreement and Internal Market

Screenshot 2018-05-16 10.22.43Piet Eeckhout and Clément Leroy examine various models for the UK-EU trade relationship after Brexit, and argue that a so-called bespoke agreement beyond existing frameworks is not available. This blog draws on Piet Eeckhout’s report Future trade relations between the EU and the UK: options after Brexit, which he is presenting to the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee on Thursday 17 May (watch here). 

The future trade relationship between the UK and the EU will affect a wide range of economic and social policies. Looking beyond what would be desirable from an economic viewpoint, one can examine the different models for this relationship that are under consideration in the context of the Brexit negotiations against the canvas of two distinct paradigms: market integration and trade liberalisation.  Continue reading

Brexit and the Future of Family Reunion Rights

Screenshot 2018-03-22 10.45.44A new draft for the withdrawal agreement published by the Brexit negotiators on 19 March presents its part on citizens’ rights, as ‘agreed at negotiators’ level’. Polly Polak explores how this would change current rights to family reunion, for EU citizens living in the UK and for UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU.

The number of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in other Member States is hard to gage, but it is generally estimated that there are approximately 3.7 million EU citizens living in the UK, and 1.3 million people born in the UK living in other EU countries. These citizens and their families will be directly affected by Brexit for the simple reason that their right to reside in their host states currently stems from EU law, and will no longer apply after Brexit. Continue reading

The Road to Transition…Paved with Good Intentions?

Rotterdam_Bulk_terminalAs British Brexit negotiators are hoping to secure an agreement on the transition period at the European Council on 22-24 March, Sionaidh Douglas-Scott explores what they should keep in mind, and discusses sticking points to prepare for.

Both the EU and UK appear to accept that a transition period (or as the UK Government prefers it – ‘implementation period’) will be necessary to effect Brexit, as it is unlikely that agreement on the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be reached and implemented before 29 March 2019. Continue reading