Britain to Keep EU Laws (For Now), May Announces

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

Prime Minister Theresa May provided more clarity on Britain’s exit from the European Union on Sunday in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr.

Her headline-grabbing announcement was that she plans to trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty before the end of March, giving the United Kingdom until early 2019 to negotiate what May said she hopes will be a “smooth transition” away from the EU.

More arcane, but more important, was her proposal to enshrine all existing EU law into British law while repealing the 1972 European Communities Act, which originally incorporated EU law into British law.

“That means the United Kingdom will be an independent sovereign nation,” she said. “It will be making its own laws.”

Which is playing to the pro-Brexit gallery. Read more “Britain to Keep EU Laws (For Now), May Announces”

Post Brexit, France May Get the European Army It Always Wanted

British prime minister David Cameron welcomes President François Hollande of France at Royal Air Force Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, January 31, 2014
British prime minister David Cameron welcomes President François Hollande of France at Royal Air Force Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, January 31, 2014 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

I argued here last year that a European army wasn’t going to happen. Only the French were interested, I wrote. The Germans were ambivalent. The British were against it. “Defense is a national — not an EU — responsibility,” they said at the time, when Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, floated the idea of a defense union.

Now Juncker is back with his proposal and the difference, of course, is that the British are leaving.

The Luxemburger reiterated his support for an EU army in a speech to the European Parliament last week, sending Britain’s Euroskeptic press into a frenzy. “Nigel Farage was right!” roared the Sunday Express. “Got out just in time,” opined The Sun.

It’s easy to dismiss Juncker’s idea as just the latest tone-deaf European federalist scheme that will go nowhere — and this would have been true if the United Kingdom wasn’t on the way out.

Now we have to take this seriously. (Thanks, Brexiteers.) Read more “Post Brexit, France May Get the European Army It Always Wanted”

Two-Speed Europe Isn’t the Answer to Britain’s Exit

British prime minister Theresa May speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, July 20
British prime minister Theresa May speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, July 20 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Tom Evans)

Gideon Rachman argues in the Financial Times that European leaders should seize the opportunity of Britain’s exit from the bloc to formally augur in a two-speed Europe that meets the conflicting expectations of pro- and anti-federalist member states.

As I have reported here, the idea of integration at two speeds was an objective of Britain’s former prime minister, David Cameron, who wrongly betted that a looser relationship with the rest of the EU would convince his electorate to vote to stay in it.

The British weren’t impressed, however, and voted to leave the European Union in a referendum this summer.

As an idea, a two-speed Europe is nevertheless still very much alive. It has been embraced by Germany’s Angela Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, as well as France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, its once and possibly future president. Read more “Two-Speed Europe Isn’t the Answer to Britain’s Exit”

As Britain Prepares to Leave EU, Irish Eye Unification

British prime minister David Cameron welcomes his Irish counterpart, Enda Kenny, to 10 Downing Street in London, England, November 9, 2015
British prime minister David Cameron welcomes his Irish counterpart, Enda Kenny, to 10 Downing Street in London, England, November 9, 2015 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Georgina Coupe)

Irish prime minister Enda Kenny has for the first time raised the option of unification with Northern Ireland, saying, “The discussion and negotiations that take place over the next period should take into account the possibility.”

Kenny’s liberal Fine Gael party hasn’t historically advocated the incorporation of British Northern Ireland into the Irish republic, but the European Union referendum last month has made the situation more fluid.

Northern Ireland, like Gibraltar and Scotland, voted largely to stay in the EU while majorities in England and Wales opted to leave. Read more “As Britain Prepares to Leave EU, Irish Eye Unification”

Scotland Could Delay Britain’s European Union Exit

Scottish unicorn Edinburgh
Statue of a unicorn in Edinburgh, Scotland, March 11, 2014 (byronv2)

Britain’s exit from the European Union could be delayed until there is agreement from all four parts of the United Kingdom on how to proceed.

Theresa May, the new prime minister, made good on her commitment to keep the union intact when she promised on Friday not to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty — which would trigger a two-year divorce proceeding from the bloc — until all devolved governments agree on a strategy.

She spoke in Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the European Union in a referendum last month.

Northern Ireland, which is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with a fellow EU member state, also voted to remain whereas majorities in England and Wales voted to get out. Read more “Scotland Could Delay Britain’s European Union Exit”

Britain Starts to Feel Consequences of EU Exit

A woman looks out over the skyline of London, England, May 13, 2014
A woman looks out over the skyline of London, England, May 13, 2014 (Ray Wewerka)

It’s only been a couple of weeks since British voters decided to leave the European Union in a referendum, but they are already starting to feel the consequences.

Away from Westminster — where apparently nobody anticipated nor prepared for the “wrong” outcome — local governments are bracing for years of financial hardship, the Financial Times reports:

Many fear that the billions of euros from EU development funds channeled into some of the most deprived areas of the country will not be replaced by Westminster, just as the slowing British economy is set to hit council budgets that are already stretched.

The newspaper cites estimates of £8.6 billion in regional development funds being lost between now and 2020. Read more “Britain Starts to Feel Consequences of EU Exit”

United Kingdom May Take Its Time to Trigger EU Exit

David Cameron Angela Merkel
British prime minister David Cameron walks with German chancellor Angela Merkel outside his Chequers country residence in Buckinghamshire, England, October 9, 2015 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Georgina Coupe)

While the presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament have called on Britain to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty to start its withdrawal from the bloc, it may take a while.

The referendum is only advisory. Parliament, where two-thirds of lawmakers want Britain to remain in the EU, is sovereign. David Cameron has left the decision to activate Article 50 to his successor. He or she will almost certainly want parliamentary approval. Politicians will be reluctant to ignore or overturn the referendum result, but they may be willing to complicate Brexit by laying down conditions for the negotiations, for example, by insisting on access to the single market. Read more “United Kingdom May Take Its Time to Trigger EU Exit”

British Exit “Wakeup Call” for Europe: Dutch

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands speaks with his British counterpart, David Cameron, at Chequers, England, February 21, 2014
Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands speaks with his British counterpart, David Cameron, at Chequers, England, February 21, 2014 (Rijksoverheid)

Parties in the Netherlands regret Britain’s decision to leave the European Union but are also motivated to press ahead with their own plans to reform the bloc.

Halbe Zijlstra, the parliamentary leader of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberal party, said on Monday that he understands the British were dissatisfied with the “European express train that keeps thundering on.”

“This sentiment lives in the Netherlands as well,” he said.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, another liberal party member and the defense minister, told the European Parliament the next day the vote in the United Kingdom should come as a “wake-up call to us all.” Read more “British Exit “Wakeup Call” for Europe: Dutch”

British Vote to Leave EU Roils Western World

British prime minister David Cameron and French president François Hollande pay their respects at the First World War memorial in Pozières, March 3
British prime minister David Cameron and French president François Hollande pay their respects at the First World War memorial in Pozières, March 3 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Georgina Coupe)
  • Britain shocked its allies on Thursday, when it voted 52 to 48 percent in a referendum to leave the European Union.
  • The remaining 27 member states want Britain to make haste, but Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will not trigger Britain’s exit at next week’s European Council.
  • Britain’s departure is a diplomatic disaster for France, Europe’s only other nuclear power. Read more “British Vote to Leave EU Roils Western World”

British EU Exit Would Be Diplomatic Disaster for France

British prime minister David Cameron welcomes President François Hollande of France at Royal Air Force Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, January 31, 2014
British prime minister David Cameron welcomes President François Hollande of France at Royal Air Force Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, January 31, 2014 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

François Heisbourg reports from Paris that Britain’s decision to leave is a diplomatic disaster for France, Europe’s only other nuclear power.

Whitehall’s energies will be devoted to negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU over the next two years. That will distract its attention from the United Nations where Britain and France often work together as permanent members of the Security Council.

The French will press for the continued implementation of the Lancaster House defense treaty, which binds the two countries in military terms, writes Heisbourg, notably in the crucial area of nuclear warhead stewardship.

There’s a problem there in terms of Scotland’s renewed independence bid. The British nuclear deterrent is based in Faslane, Scotland. The ruling SNP has been opposed to their presence for years. If Scotland secedes from the United Kingdom, a new base would have to be found for the nuclear-armed submarines, which could leave France as the only Western power this side of the Atlantic with a credible nuclear deterrent for several years. It’s not a position the French like to be in. Read more “British EU Exit Would Be Diplomatic Disaster for France”