The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you not change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understand

Cookies are a technology which we use to provide you with tailored information on our website. A cookie is a piece of code that is sent to your internet browser and is stored on your system.

Please see below for a list of cookies this website uses:

Cookie name: _utma, _utmb, _utmc, _utmz

Purpose: Google Analytics cookies. Google Analytics is software that lets us analyse how visitors use our site. We use this information to improve our website and provide the best experience to visitors.

Function: These cookies collect data in an anonymous form. Please see Google's privacy policy for further information. To opt out of these cookies, please visit Google's website.

Cookie name: Sitecore

Purpose: Stores information, such as language and regional preferences, that our content management system (the system we use to update our website) relies on to function.

Function: This is a session cookie and will be destroyed when you close your browser. This cookie is essential for our website to function.

Cookie name: ASP.net_session

Purpose: Allows the website to save your session state across different pages. For example, if you have completed a survey, the website will remember that you have done so and will not ask you to complete it again when you view another page on the website.

Function: This is a session cookie and will be destroyed when you close your browser. This cookie is essential for our website to function.

Cookie name: website#sc_wede

Purpose: Indicates whether the user's browser supports inline editing of content. This indicates whether our content management system will work for our website administrators in their internet browsers.

Function: This is a session cookie and will be destroyed when you close your browser. This cookie is essential for our website to function.

Cookie name: redirected

Purpose: Remembers when the site forwards you from one page to another, so you can return to the first page. For example, go back to the home page after viewing a special 'splash' page.

Function: This is a session cookie, which your browser will destroy when it shuts down. The website needs this cookie to function.

Cookie name: tccookiesprefs

Purpose: Remembers when you respond to the site cookie policy, so you do not see the cookie preferences notice on every page.

Function: If you choose to remember your preference with a temporary cookie, your browser will remove it when you shut it down, otherwise the cookie will be stored for about a year.

Cookie name: _ga

Purpose: Additional Google Analytics cookie. Google Analytics is software that lets us analyse how visitors use our site. We use this information to improve our website and provide the best experience to visitors.

Function: These cookies collect data in an anonymous form. Please see Google's privacy policy for further information.

Cookie name: SC_ANALYTICS_GLOBAL_COOKIE, SC_ANALYTICS_SESSION_COOKIE

Purpose: Sitecore Analytics is software that lets us analyse how visitors use our site. We use this information to improve our website and provide the best experience to visitors.

Function: These cookies collect data in an anonymous form. When you close your browser, it will delete the 'session' cookie; it will keep the 'global' cookie for about one year.

Facebook cookies

We use Facebook 'Like' buttons to share site feedback. For further information, see Facebook's cookie policy page.

Twitter cookies

We use Twitter 'Tweet' buttons to share site feedback. For further information, see Twitter's privacy statement.

YouTube cookies

We embed videos from our official YouTube channel. YouTube uses cookies to help maintain the integrity of video statistics, prevent fraud and to improve their site experience. If you view a video, YouTube may set cookies on your computer once you click on the video player.

Cookies pop-up

When you close the cookies pop-up box by clicking "OK", a permanent cookie will be set on your machine. This will remember your preference so that the pop-up doesn't display across any pages whenever you visit the website.

Opting out/removing cookies

To opt out of Google Analytics cookies, please visit Google’s website.

You can also control what cookies you accept through your internet browser. For details on how to do this, please visit aboutcookies.org. Please note that by deleting our cookies or disabling future cookies you may not be able to access certain areas or features of our website.

mailing list
donate now
join now
shop

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Fighting for Brexit on two fronts

A gathering storm over London.Photograph: Garry Knight, Wikimedia Commons.

While the UK's parliament debates the EU Withdrawal Bill, its government is pursuing a post-Brexit deal on the continent. On both fronts, the decision Britons took to leave the EU is under threat. Indeed, their government has precious little wiggle room to deliver, but it still has a few aces up its sleeve.

Let's start with the threats.

At home, the British government is holding fast as its EU Withdrawal Bill—formerly the Great Repeal Bill—is debated in Parliament. The bill's basic intention is to repeal the European Communities Act (which marked the UK's accession to the European Communities), and replace all EU laws pertaining to the UK with domestic laws, so as to smooth transition out of the bloc. Predictably, hundreds of amendments have been proposed, many by anti-Brexit MPs.

In and of itself, the notion of revising or clarifying aspects of a law is a good thing. Indeed, thoughtful debate of elements such as the government's potential abuse of powers allowing it to re-write laws without Parliament benefits everyone in Britain. However, some amendments give a strong impression that those proposing them aim to frustrate Brexit, or prevent it altogether. For example, anti-Brexit MPs from the Welsh Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party tabled an amendment that would have forced the British government to win the consent of devolved administrations before repealing EU laws.

Across the English Channel, another front has opened since the triggering of Article 50 formally set in motion the Brexit process. Since June, Brexit Secretary David Davis and his team of negotiators have faced off with EU counterparts to hammer out the details of the UK's departure, as well the future UK-EU relationship.

Though progress has been made on certain subjects, such as the rights of EU citizens living in the UK (and vice-versa), the EU refuses to discuss the future trade relationship without knowing how much the UK is willing to pay for EU budgetary commitments it made while still a member.

Of course, there is a certain logic to ensuring Britain maintain financial commitments already made, but the EU's approach so far has verged on extortion. For instance, when asked what he thought of the 20 billion euros tentatively offered by Britain to settle its books, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani simply replied "it's peanuts". No reason was provided, nor even a clear principle; to Tajani, it just wasn't enough.

This line has been held across the EU, from Germany to France. EU Council President Donald Tusk even went so far as to issue an ultimatum to British Prime Minister Theresa May in a recent meeting. If the UK does not offer substantially more than what is already tabled, discussions cannot progress.

On both the domestic and continental fronts, Brexit Britain faces formidable foes, bent not on amicable withdrawal but on nothing less than a complete reversal of the largest democratic mandate in British history.

And yet, every cloud has a silver lining.

In Westminster, the government knows that one of the hardest parts of the job is already done. That is, Article 50 has been triggered, and the UK will be leaving the EU by March 2019. Even if its own amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill—calling for a legally enshrined date of depature—is voted down, only unanimous consent between the UK and all 27 EU member states could extend the deadline. As such, any major attempts to frustrate the Withdrawal Bill in Parliament ultimately damage Britain, making even the most ardent europhile MPs think twice about scuttling it.

On the continent, UK negotiators know that they have far more leverage than Brussels would like them to think. The British position rests on one team representing one government. Opposite them is a team dependent on unanimity across 27 EU capitals. So far, this unanimity has held, but as March 2019 looms ever closer, domestic politicians in the EU—particularly in Germany—are feeling pressure from businesses to maintain trade with one of their primary trading partners.

Speaking recently at an economic conference in Berlin, Davis implied that if anyone will flinch first in negotiations, it will be the EU. In a no-deal scenario, all parties lose. However, with the prospect of numerous trade deals lined up following Brexit, the British government knows that the EU ultimately has more at stake.

The war on Brexit is cause for worry to any who believe in nation-state democracy, or the right of all peoples to self-determination. Indeed, more fronts seem to be opening than closing. Nevertheless, there is good reason to hope that the democratic mandate handed to British lawmakers by 17.4 million Britons will ultimately be carried out.

This article first appeared in The Eurosceptic

Send Morrissey to break the impasse
5 Reasons To Visit Bruges This Winter
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Sunday, 17 December 2017