Friday 4 August 2017

Weekly round-up

Another round-up of the most interesting analysis of Brexit I have read in the last week.

Former Tory MP Matthew Parris tore into Conservative Brexit incompetence in The Times. It’s paywalled, but this tweet provides a readable version.

Philosopher Helen de Cruz wrote a thoughtful and moving meditation on home, immigration and Brexit on the Politics means Politics site.

A very acute summary of where the Brexit negotiations stand was provided by Brendan Donnelly on the LSE Brexit blog.

Signs of a move towards a degree of realism amongst thoughtful Brexiters came from Vote Leave activist Oliver Norgrove in an open letter to hard Brexiters on his blog.

Labour politician Denis MacShane’s discussion of Brexit and Foreign Policy on the Carnegie Europe site was thoughtful, if depressing.

There have been a lot of excellent things written this week about what is belatedly being recognized as the crucial issue of the Irish border, and this by Siobhan Fenton in Prospect was perhaps the best of them. Simon Jenkins’s piece in The Guardian is also worth a read.

Professor Kenneth Armstrong of Cambridge University’s discussion of Brexit ‘originalism’ on The Conversation site is – sorry for the pun – an original take on the schisms within the Brexiter camp.

My two favourite Brexit commentators wrote great pieces this week: Ian Dunt on Brexit transitional agreements on and David Allen Green on the same topic in the FT. Green also wrote a very incisive piece on the Referendum question and an excellent analysis of the ‘EEA option’ both also in the FT (paywalled). These two are stand-out commentators for being invariably well-informed and on the pulse of Brexit debates, and whilst both write elegantly and sharply they are quite different in style: Green forensic and limpid; Dunt rhetorical and elegiac.

Almost undiscussed in the debates on Brexit so far has been its effect (for both the UK and the EU) on the numerous agreements, both trade and non-trade, between the EU and third parties. This piece (written a few weeks ago, but I only read it this week) by Guillaume van der Loo and Steven Blockmans on the CEPS site is a clear introduction to this very complex issue.

Pick of the week for me, for its punchy writing and neat drawing together of numerous aspects of the Brexit debacle, was this scathing polemic by Jenni Russell in the New York Times.

Recommended only because they lay bare the paucity of Brexiter thinking are two stupendously dishonest pieces. The first by Brendan O’Neill in The Spectator argues that leaver voters are heroic because a poll shows that they are happy with Brexit even if it means economic damage to the UK and to their own families, an argument which would carry slightly more weight had Leave campaigned on the basis that this would be the effect of Brexit rather than having claimed that any such damage was just ‘Project Fear’ scaremongering; the second by Daniel Hannan (he of “absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place the single market” fame) on the ‘good news’ of Brexit in the New York Times which is tendentious and mendacious in equal measure: there is not a single line in it which could inspire anything other than contempt from anyone remotely wedded to honest debate.

Finally, anyone reading this who missed my own blogposts this week will find an analysis of the Brexiter myth peddled by Liam Fox and others that existing regulatory harmonization makes a Brexit trade deal easy, and a detailed rebuttal of John Redwood’s blogpost on the current Brexit situation. Thanks to Ceri Shields for writing to me about these posts to say that “your clean and elegant prose style is always a pleasure. People you’ll never meet out here in internet land appreciate it”. Much appreciated.

[Acknowledgements: Thanks to Polly Polak of Universidad de Salamanca, Spain, Jennifer Zerk of Jennifer Zerk Consulting and Associate Fellow of Chatham House, and Oliver Norgrove of Royal Holloway, University of London for alerting me to some of the things cited (and to others not cited). Neither they nor the institutions with which they are affiliated are, of course, responsible for any interpretation I have put upon those citations here].

Updated with minor edits 5 August 2017.

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