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brexit “negotiations” round 2 July 20, 2017

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After more than a year it is quite amazing that the UK “government” still seems to have no idea what its specific Brexit negotiation objectives are. Michel Barnier’s speaking points state that negotiations are not possible where there is no clear British position. This is a statement which is so blindingly obvious that it should not need to be made. So there were discussions about the British exit payment. The EU 27 have set out their thinking on this question and the UK, rather than setting out details of their own thinking seem to have just said they realize they will need to pay something (Boris Johnson’s unhelpful comments about how the EU 27 should just go whistle aside) but haven’t really spelled out their ideas about how to get to the right number. And the UK position on other issues doesn’t really seem to be much clearer than this (except they seem to think very many of the EU citizens living in the UK must be criminals). It is as if most of those involved think only of the impact of what they says and do in terms of short-term domestic UK politics rather than in terms of how to achieve a successful negotiation (maybe they recognize that all possible deals for the UK are worse than EU membership?), or how to protect the future of the country.

uk election: yet another broken promise April 21, 2017

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I have lived outside the UK for long enough that I haven’t been able to vote in elections. This did not bother me too much to begin with because the constituency I lived in before I came to Miami was so obviously going to vote in a way that made one vote irrelevant. But it did bother me when the referendum happened: I would have liked to have a vote recorded on that issue. So I was very pleased to read that there was a new plan to allow expatriates to vote in UK elections. I know the theory was that most of them would be older and would vote conservative, but all the same. Now it seems that the election will take place without allowing a vote to the disenfranchised living abroad, probably because most of them are in other European states and worried (rightly) about their futures. So it is yet another lie/broken promise in this Brexit context.

For this election, where attitudes to the EU are significant they (we) don’t get a vote. But afterwards – after we are all disadvantaged by this decision – what chance any of those people will vote conservative in future? So probably a promise broken not just now, but for the future also.

brexit paper April 17, 2017

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Here’s a new paper on Brexit I have been working on for a while: European (Dis)Union: From the 1992 Single Market to Brexit.

how brexit will stop immigration into the uk March 22, 2017

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As businesses are forced to relocate (here airlines) or move large numbers of people to EU countries the UK will become less and less attractive as a place to live. The House of Lords European Union Committee reported this week on the significant downside to the UK of a departure without agreement to protect the UK’s non-financial services sector. The report notes:

Negotiations on a FTA and the UK’s withdrawal from the EU should recognise the link that exists between trading services and the cross-border movement of persons. The continued movement of workers and service providers in both directions is seen by the UK’s booming services sectors as necessary to support growth. Without provisions in a FTA, trade in tourism, education and health-related travel services between the UK and the EU will also be restricted.

Meanwhile, the House of Commons Justice Committee reports on the UK’s continuing need to collaborate with the EU on criminal and civil justice after Brexit.
But despite all this it looks as though the notification will be made next week.

happy 2017, and how (not) to have a successful brexit January 3, 2017

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Get your (very experienced) ambassador to the EU, Ivan Rogers, to resign.

parliament talks brexit, rule of law, freedom of the press, and we’re none the wiser November 7, 2016

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Among the many failures of transparency in this whole situation, today’s discussion of last week’s court decision, and the press reaction, is the one about not wanting to disclose to Parliament anything about the Government’s negotiating position that might prevent the UK from getting the best possible deal for the UK.

This sort of “trust us, we will do the best for you (and transparency would stop us doing that)” talk contrasts with the EU’s disclosure of documents relating to TTIP negotiations. Transparency isn’t inevitably seen as inconsistent with negotiation – at least when you recognise that you need to bring citizens on board with the results of the negotiation.

These parliamentary debates seem to be based on a rather different idea – that when the Government tells the people that it has negotiated the terms of a Brexit that are the best terms possible, or that the failure to reach agreement on such terms means that there will be a Brexit with no agreement on terms at all, that the citizens should just accept it. After all, the point is to do what a majority of the voters said they wanted, which is Brexit. It is politically impossible, seemingly to notice the Parliamentary failure to think through the details in the referendum legislation, or the massive fraud that was perpetrated on the citizens who voted.

The range of theoretically possible terms is vast – and to describe them all as Brexit makes no sense.

Moreover, it looks increasingly likely (and this would be entirely rational) that the only terms on offer will be those that offer the worst deal for the UK. The other Member States have every incentive to try to pick off every single part of UK economic activity they can. If they did not insist on the worst possible terms for the AUK they would be failing in their duties to their own citizens, and failing in their responsibilities to each other to do what is necessary to hold the European project together.

brexit rule of law issues November 6, 2016

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Thursday’s judgment in R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the EU is beautiful, a model of a judicial opinion, elegant and parsimonious, and also very careful not to trespass on political decision-making. It’s a judgment all law students in the UK should be required to read. But just as Mark Carney’s good faith implementation of his statutory mandate for financial stability has been critiqued as impinging on politics, so this good faith exercise of legal judgment has been impugned by people who should know better. And the Justice Minister stands by. How can a recognition of the fundamental principle of the British Constitution that sovereignty belongs to the Queen in Parliament be seen as anything other than pro-democracy? Meanwhile it looks as though the EU Commission is looking onto another (possible?) failure of the UK Government to respect the law – this time with respect to EU state aids rules and whatever promises have been made to Nissan. And surely this will attract just as much unthinking hostility as the other developments. And to think that the UK celebrated the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta last year.

why the uk parliament should exercise scrutiny over the brexit process August 30, 2016

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From the House of Lords European Union Committee:

The success or failure of the Government’s negotiation of the withdrawal from, and new relationship with, the EU will have profound and lasting implications for the United Kingdom. At stake are not only the economic prosperity of the nation, but our international standing and influence, our internal security, and the rights of the millions of EU citizens resident in the UK, and the more than one million UK citizens who live in EU Member States. The implications for the other 27 EU Member States, which have a shared interest in all these areas, are almost equally profound.
The Government’s renegotiation of the terms of the UK’s EU membership in late 2015 and early 2016, which led to the agreement of a ‘New Settlement’ by the European Council on 19 February 2016, was primarily an exercise of executive discretion, undertaken on the basis that the results would be put to the electorate. While we expressed a measure of disappointment at the level of engagement with Parliament in the course of the renegotiation, we understood the Government’s reluctance to offer a running commentary.
The forthcoming negotiations are both immeasurably more important and complex, and fundamentally different in nature. It is inconceivable that they should be conducted without effective parliamentary oversight. Indeed, in a parliamentary democracy we believe it is the right and duty of Parliament to ensure that the negotiations are scrutinised effectively at every stage.

uk and the eu single market after brexit June 30, 2016

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Reading Hansard for yesterday when David Cameron reported on his meeting with the European Council I am struck again by the various ways in which politicians talk about the single market. I have a paper to be published in the Fordham International Law Journal in which I look at how the sigle market idea has evolved over time. There never has been one agreed idea of what is required for a single market. At the same time, right from the beginning the common market meant free movement of goods persons services and capital. What is required of the EU Member States with respect to these freedoms has evolved, but the core ideas have been there since the beginning. From that perspective saying we want freedom to sell our goods and services to you without paying tariffs but we won’t agree to the free movement of persons which represents the human part of the capital equation just doesn’t compute. It’s distressing to see the fact free posturing continuing in such precarious times.