EFTA Is Not an Alternative to Theresa May’s Brexit Deal

Flag of Norway
Flag of Norway (Jorge Láscar)

The Sun reports that British cabinet secretaries Michael Gove and Amber Rudd — the former a leader of the 2016 campaign to leave the EU, the latter a “remainer” — intend to push for membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with Labour’s support if and when Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal fails in Parliament.

This plan is unlikely to succeed, for two reasons:

  1. It confuses the withdrawal agreement with the political declaration on the future EU-UK relationship.
  2. Neither the EU nor the EFTA would accept it as a short-term solution. Read more “EFTA Is Not an Alternative to Theresa May’s Brexit Deal”

Why Spain’s Threat to Hold Up Brexit Over Gibraltar Is Theater

Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell attends a meeting in Brussels, July 17
Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell attends a meeting in Brussels, July 17 (European Council)

Spain has demanded greater clarity on the status of Gibraltar before signing off on the treaty that is meant to regulate Britain’s exit from the EU in March 2019.

“We want the interpretation to be clear in that text that the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU will not apply to Gibraltar,” Josep Borrell, the Spanish foreign minister, said on Monday.

Here is why his demand is a bit of a dud. Read more “Why Spain’s Threat to Hold Up Brexit Over Gibraltar Is Theater”

May’s Brexit Deal Splits Conservative Party

British prime minister Theresa May attends a NATO summit in Brussels, July 11, 2018
British prime minister Theresa May attends a NATO summit in Brussels, July 11, 2018 (Shutterstock/Alexandros Michailidis)
  • Seven members of the British government, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, have resigned in protest to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
  • They — and many Conservatives — object to a potentially indefinite “backstop” in the withdrawal agreement that would keep the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU in order to avoid closing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Read more “May’s Brexit Deal Splits Conservative Party”

May’s Is the Only Alternative to a No-Deal Brexit

British prime minister Theresa May attends the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017
British prime minister Theresa May attends the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Jay Allen)

After Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016, I argued here that the only alternative to a “hard” Brexit was a Norway-style deal under which Britain would stay in the EU customs union and single market.

I got it half-right. The draft agreement that is due to be published later today would — according to British media — see the United Kingdom exit the single market but remain in the customs union until a better solution can be found to prevent the return of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Britain would also respect the rights of the roughly three million EU nationals in the country. The one million Britons who live and work on the continent would be treated similarly. Read more “May’s Is the Only Alternative to a No-Deal Brexit”

May Wins Cabinet Support for Brexit Treaty

British prime minister Theresa May speaks with ministers at her Chequers country retreat in Buckinghamshire, England, February 22
British prime minister Theresa May speaks with ministers at her Chequers country retreat in Buckinghamshire, England, February 22 (MoD)

Northern Ireland’s Unionists Threaten to Rebel Over Brexit

Belfast Northern Ireland
Belfast City Hall, Northern Ireland (iStock/Kylie Nicholson)

Northern Ireland’s conservatives have threatened to withhold their support from Theresa May’s 2019 budget proposal if the prime minister crosses their “red lines” on Brexit.

May needs the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland for her majority in Westminster. Read more “Northern Ireland’s Unionists Threaten to Rebel Over Brexit”

EU Doesn’t Budge on Brexit

Theresa May António Costa
Prime Ministers Theresa May of the United Kingdom and António Costa of Portugal talk during a European Council meeting in Brussels, June 29 (Governo da República Portuguesa)

The EU summit in Salzburg, Austria has driven home two truths about Brexit:

  1. The United Kingdom cannot cherrypick the conditions of its future relations with the EU. If it wants to stay in the single market, it must accept the same terms as Iceland and Norway.
  2. There is no point in going over Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier’s head and appealing directly to EU leaders.

None of this should be news. Read more “EU Doesn’t Budge on Brexit”

Blunt Talk for Brexiteers

Britain's then-foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, answers questions from reporters in Kiev, Ukraine, March 1
Britain’s then-foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, answers questions from reporters in Kiev, Ukraine, March 1 (Shutterstock/Nazar Gonchar)

It’s been seventeen months since the Brexit talks began and, judging by their recent commentary, including Boris Johnson’s latest column in The Telegraph, the Brexiteers are still laboring under delusions about the outcome.

So let’s be blunt. Read more “Blunt Talk for Brexiteers”