Spain Promises Not to Hold Brexit Deal Hostage to Gibraltar

View of Gibraltar, April 6, 2016
View of Gibraltar, April 6, 2016 (Scott Wylie)

Spain will not hold the Brexit negotiations hostage to discussions about Gibraltar, the country’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, has told ABC newspaper:

I do not want to jeopardize an agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom by subjecting it to a need to alter Gibraltar’s status at the same time.

Dastis did say he hopes the Gibraltarians will consider sharing sovereignty with Spain, but his statement appears to be a climb down.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy earlier said he would not allow Gibraltar to remain in the European single market if Britain leaves.

A European Council negotiation document published by the Financial Times read that “no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.”

This was interpreted in Britain as giving Spain a veto over the terms of its exit. Read more

Complacency May Have Led to Brexit and Trump

View of the Thames in London, England at dawn
View of the Thames in London, England at dawn (Uncoated)

Janan Ganesh wonders in the Financial Times if, rather than economic pain, relatively good times led to victories for Brexit and Donald Trump.

The median Briton, he points out, has no recollection of national crisis: no devaluation, no three-day workweek, no conscript war, none of the floor-to-ceiling greyness of the postwar years, when austerity entailed the rationing of basics and not just tight public-sector pay settlements.

The worst ordeals were an invasion of Iraq conducted by an all-volunteer army and a crash in which unemployment peaked at 8 percent.

To remain vigilant after such a benign experience of history is too much to ask, argues Ganesh. Read more

One Year After Referendum, Brexit Questions Remain Unanswered

The Houses of Parliament in London, England, February 19, 2013
The Houses of Parliament in London, England, February 19, 2013 (Martin Robson)

A year has passed since Britain voted to leave the European Union and huge questions remain unanswered.

Jon Worth lists a few at his blog:

  • What’s going to happen to Britain’s £700 billion trade with the EU?
  • How many planes will be allowed to fly across the Channel once Britain exits Europe’s open-skies regime?
  • How long is it going to take to assess and renegotiate 759 international treaties Britain is currently part of as a member of the EU?
  • What will happen to the European Health Insurance Card and the 27 million Brits who have one?

The deadline for a Brexit deal is March 2019, but some of these questions need to be answered sooner. Businesses want to make plans. Airlines, health insurers, hospitals, logistics companies and merchants can’t wait and hope for the best. Read more

Conservatives Have Neglected Their Responsibility to the Union

The flags of the United Kingdom and Scotland fly in Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands, July 3, 2014
The flags of the United Kingdom and Scotland fly in Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands, July 3, 2014 (Julien Carnot)

The full name of Britain’s ruling party is the Conservative and Unionist Party, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they have governed lately. Read more

Hammond Pours Cold Water on Hopes of Soft Brexit

Philip Hammond, then Britain's foreign secretary, answers questions from reporters in London, England, November 30, 2015
Philip Hammond, then Britain’s foreign secretary, answers questions from reporters in London, England, November 30, 2015 (FCO)

After a disappointing election result, pragmatists in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party pinned their hopes on Philip Hammond to save them from a “hard” exit from the European Union.

It seems they miscalculated.

In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, the chancellor ruled out continued membership of both the European single market and the customs union.

He also reiterated the Conservatives’ commitment to reducing annual immigration to the tens of thousands, a target the government has missed for years and which is inconsistent with a Norway-style deal. Read more

Defeat Makes It Harder for May to Navigate Brexit Demands

British prime minister Theresa May greets European Council president Donald Tusk outside 10 Downing Street in London, England, September 8, 2016
British prime minister Theresa May greets European Council president Donald Tusk outside 10 Downing Street in London, England, September 8, 2016 (European Council)

Theresa May’s election defeat has left her Brexit strategy at the mercy of a divided Tory Party.

May called the election to strengthen her hand but now has even less room to maneuver.

Her Conservatives went down from 330 to 317 seats on Thursday, nine short of a majority. She is forced to rely on the hard-right Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland and its ten lawmakers to stay in power.

As a result, both pragmatists, who campaigned against Brexit, and hardliners, who want a complete break with the EU, can hold the government hostage. Read more

What Britain’s General Election Result Means

Statue of former British prime minister Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, in Parliament Square, London, England, May 30, 2005
Statue of former British prime minister Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, in Parliament Square, London, England, May 30, 2005 (JR P)

Britain’s ruling Conservatives are projected to lose control of Parliament. The exit poll for Thursday’s election shows them falling from 330 to 314 seats. Twelve more are needed for a majority.

Assuming the exit poll isn’t too far off, what does this mean for Britain’s next government, its major political parties and the process of divorcing the United Kingdom from the EU? Read more