What role will parliament have in triggering Article 50 and shaping the terms of Brexit?

13702284943_a43335d328_zConstitutional lawyers have been engaged in a major debate over whether parliamentary authorisation is needed for Article 50 to be triggered and the process of negotiating Brexit to formally begin. In this post, the UCL Constitution Unit’s Robert Hazell and Jack Sheldon move the discussion on, asking how parliament might debate the triggering of Article 50 and, once it has been triggered, what role parliament might play in scrutinising the negotiations that follow.

There has been an outpouring of blog posts discussing whether there is a legal requirement for parliamentary authorisation before the Prime Minister can trigger Article 50 and start the formal negotiations to lead to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. However, it is probable that regardless of the legal position, the political realities will require some form of parliamentary consent. This post moves the discussion on, to ask in what ways parliament might debate the triggering of Article 50, and, once it has been triggered, what role parliament might play in scrutinising the Brexit negotiations that follow. Continue reading

Does Eastern Europe have lessons for Brexit Britain?

27678701211_6125a9b158_zSeán Hanley, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Central and East European Politics at UCL, examines lessons learned from historical political change in Central and East Europe, and asks whether any parallels can be drawn with post-Brexit Britain.

In the aftermath of the EU referendum a number of Central and South East Europeanists wrote blogs reflecting on possible parallels between Brexit and break-ups of multinational socialist states like Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia in early 1990s.

There are certainly parallels to be drawn.  They lie, as Catherine Baker notes, often in the political dynamics of exiting a large multi-national structure: the desire of smaller nations (Scotland) to ‘exit the exit’; the woes of asymmetric federalism, where nations ina multinational union have varying degrees of autonomy; the changeable nature of public opinion; the EU as a symbol of modernisation and liberalism (the ‘March for Europe’, and the normalisation of  radical positions through by media coverage – and now social media ‘echo chambers). Continue reading

Roman oratory and the EU referendum campaigns

ciceroIn addition to marking a politically decisive moment in British history, the campaigns in advance of the referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU were exciting objects of study for Classicists in terms of the political use of oratory, writes Gesine Manuwald, Professor of Latin at UCL.

In addition to marking a politically decisive moment in British history, the campaigns in advance of the referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU were exciting objects of study for Classicists in terms of the political use of oratory. This applies in particular to students of the oratory of the Roman Republic, mainly the orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BCE), as such scholars tend to have a specific perspective on contemporary speeches and argumentative techniques, shaped by their experience of the ancient world; they are also often interested in comparisons as these can be illuminating both ways. Approached that way, the campaigns and the strategies used turned out to display all sorts of unexpected parallels between rhetorical argument in Republican Rome and present-day Britain. Continue reading

So what does Angela Merkel think? Germany’s reactions towards the new British government

6996023785_a7766e6000_zNina Trentmann, UK Business Correspondent at Die Welt, takes a look at the recent appointment of Boris Johnson as UK Foreign Secretary and the reactions of politicians in Germany to this news, particularly in the context of future negotiation tactis between the UK and the EU.

It was a shock. German politicians, their French counterparts, EU representatives – they all shook their head in disbelief when it became known that the former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, would become the UK’s new foreign minister. German TV commentators were reportedly confounded by the appointment. Others, such as the French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, described the Prime Minister’s choice as a sign of the political crisis in the UK, and branded Johnson a ‘liar’ for his behaviour during the referendum campaign. Continue reading

You can’t blame Brussels for Brexit

EU flagRonan McCrea, Barrister and Senior Lecturer in Law at UCL, argues that it is not clear that the EU is any less accountable than national governments.

The claim that the EU is undemocratic and unaccountable is made so often it seems to be an accepted background to any discussion of the union. The charges levelled against it assert that EU institutions are unelected, unaccountable, and that EU democracy is a sham.

These critiques are only partially true and in many cases apply equally to the government of member states. Continue reading