Climate Change and the Irony of Brexit

jonathan-kemper-1432454-unsplash.jpgAlbert Weale argues that at a time of a climate crisis trumping frontiers, international governance is needed more than ever. Leaving the EU and its structures of cooperation could thus be counterproductive for the UK as the country sets new bold and needed  environmental objectives.

Brexit is full of ironies. Consider Mrs May’s recent announcement that the UK government will commit itself to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The audacity of the policy is matched only by the urgency of its need. It is obviously intended to show global leadership as well as to leave a legacy of the Prime Minister’s term in office other than failed Brexit negotiations. And yet nothing could be more ironic than leaving the EU announcing as your signature policy a set of measures that by anyone’s reckoning require international cooperation.

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A country of purists: the polling which lays bare the death of any compromise on Brexit

kevin-grieve-1432573-unsplashIn a piece for, Christina Pagel and Christabel Cooper analyse new polling data to show that a large majority of voters are now Brexit ‘purists’, who support either Remain or No-Deal and won’t have it any other way. And that could mean big trouble for the two main parties.

The recent European elections were a disaster for both main parties, with voters defecting en masse to the Brexit party or clear Remain parties. The official position of both Labour and the Conservatives is that they will leave the EU with a negotiated deal of some sort, which will be some variation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the existing political declaration. But with the Tory leadership election lasting six weeks, followed by the summer recess, parliament won’t be able to attempt to legislate an EU withdrawal until September at the earliest.

There is, however, a problem. Our latest survey, carried out just after the EU elections, shows that voters have turned against a deal of any kind – hard or soft. By September, any hope of marshalling the country (or even a large minority of it) behind a negotiated deal may well be gone.

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EU elections voting system explained: D’Hondt worry


Christina Pagel gives us a timely and illustrated explainer on the D’Hondt system for the European elections, with tips on how to maximise the impact of your vote.

The UK will be taking part in the EU elections next week, and unlike our usual “First past the post” voting system, seats in the EU parliament will be allocated using a form of proportional representation called the D’Hondt method. Any form of proportional representation is more favourable to smaller parties than “First past the post”. In an entirely proportional system you should just be able to vote for the party you like the best and know that your vote ‘matters’. But why then has there been a frenzy of debate over the failure of a “Remain Alliance” between the smaller Remain parties? And does it matter that the Brexit Party have hoovered up votes from UKIP and the Conservatives and, to a lesser extent, Labour? The answer is yes and no – read on to find out how the D’Hondt method allocates seats and what it means for the EU elections.

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British exceptionalism is an intellectual trap

14803056703_99ee8a978b_oHelene von Bismarck warns Britons and Europeans against adopting the exceptionalist narrative of British history from the Brexiters. The assumption that the United Kingdom has always been too different from the rest of the EU to make a success of its membership is based on a superficial reading not just of British, but of European history.

What are non-British observers of British politics to make of the Brexit drama of the last few months? Is all this just the culmination of a doomed British EU-membership that was always destined to fail? This interpretation is tempting, but ultimately ahistorical and lacking in nuance. Frustrated as many Europeans understandably are with the extent of ignorance and sometimes open hostility towards the EU displayed in the British Brexit debate, this is no excuse to base one’s interpretation of Brexit on stereotypes or a selective reading of history.

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The European Parliament elections: seven things you need to know

arnaud-jaegers-253360-unsplash.jpgNominations for election to the European Parliament closed on April 25th. We now know which parties will be contesting the elections (if they happen), and who those parties have selected to stand for them in each region of the UK. UCL Constitution Unit’s Alan Renwick offers a brief guide to how the elections will work and what we can expect to learn from them.

With little sign of progress in the Brexit talks between the government and the Labour Party, UK participation in next month’s European Parliament elections looks increasingly likely. The parties have nominated their candidates and begun to launch their campaigns. Much is being said about how the electoral system will shape the outcome, but not all of it is accurate. This post provides a quick guide to the key points and reaches two main conclusions. First, the system will disadvantage small parties: in particular, the anti-Brexit parties will be punished for their disunity. Second, anyone wanting to read the results as a proxy second Brexit referendum will need to do so with great care.

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