Tag Archives: Changing Europe

Breixt identities polarized Britons

The UK is increasingly polarized by Brexit identities and they seem to have become stronger than party identities, a new academic report finds.

Only one in 16 (1-16) people did not have a Brexit identity, while more than one in five( 1-5) said they had no party identity.

This report highlights the fundamental divisions Brexit has created, and in some cases exacerbated, in British society. New Brexit identities have emerged, which seem to be stronger than party identities. Divisions are also clear on national lines, as well as between MPs and their respective party members,” professor Anand Menon, director of The UK in a Changing Europe, said.

 Sir John Curtice’s latest analysis of public opinion on a further referendum finds there has been no decisive shift in favour of another referendum.

 The report, Brexit and public opinion 2019, by The UK in a Changing Europe, provides an authoritative, comprehensive and up-to-date guide to public opinion on each of the key issues around Brexit.

 Brexit identities

  • The UK is increasingly polarized by Brexit identity: By mid-2018, only just over 6% of respondents to the British Election study did not identify with either Leave or Remain
  • New information about Brexit is interpreted in ways that reinforce pre-existing views.
  • Those seeing themselves predominately as Scottish or Irish are more inclined to support Remain while among those who describe themselves as English not British, there is strong support, not only, for Brexit but for a ‘hard’ Brexit.

 No deal

  • Polls show just 4% think that no deal means a reversion to the status quo ante.

Only 8% think that ‘nothing important would really change’ if the UK left the EU without a deal

  • MPs are even more divided than the public on the impact of no deal: Only 2% of Leave backing MPs expect medical supply shortages if there is no deal and 14% of Leave voters; 75% of Remain supporting MPs expect shortages and 55% of Remain voters.

 Immigration

  • The number of people who see immigration as one of the most important issues facing the country has more than halved from around 45% in the months leading up to the referendum to under 20% – the lowest level since 2001
  • Most people are ‘balancers’ when it comes to immigration – appreciating both its costs and benefits.

 Party politics

  • More voters than ever describe Labour’s position as ‘unclear’ and ‘confused’

Labour’s Brexit position is under increasing pressure from members and supporters

  • More Conservative voters (46%) than Conservative members (38%) support Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal and a survey of Conservative MPs show them more aligned than ever with their eurosceptic membership.

 Other findings

  • Analysis debunking the widespread assumption that Remain voters have higher levels of understanding of European Union issues than Leave voters
  • Polling showing the relative unity of voters in the EU27 on attitudes to the Brexit negotiations.

The 23 chapter, 58 page report is written by 34 academics and is the most comprehensive and authoritative analysis of Brexit and public opinion to date. It analyses emerging Brexit identities and what voters want from Brexit.

 Most of the academics who contributed to the report are part of The UK in a Changing Europe, including: John Curtice, Sara Hobolt, Rob Ford, Anand Menon and Alan Wager.

On the day the report is being released on 22 January. The UK in a Changing Europe is holding a major conference on Brexit and public opinion 2019 which includes keynote speeches from Sir John Curtice and journalist Adam Boulton.

Image: illustration.

PM expected to make “clear choices”

A detailed assessment of what the government must address in its Brexit white paper has been carried out by academic think tank The UK in a Changing Europe.

“To reduce uncertainty, which the Prime Minister promised to do since January 2017, she needs to make clear choices. Economically, there is much to be gained from making tough choices sooner rather than later”  prof. Anand Menon said.

 The report – The Brexit white paper: what it must address – argues that the white paper must:  resolve the trade-offs between: optimal economic policies, adherence to the government’s red lines and satisfaction of the EU’s demands;

  • provide a credible plan for a customs relationship setting out a proposal that is acceptable to the EU and is feasible both practically and financially;
  • address the trade off between regulatory divergence and trade barriers setting out not only how tariffs but also non-tariff (regulatory) barriers will be limited;
  • acknowledge and address the issue of the intra-Irish border proposing practical alternatives to the EU’s backstop solution (which requires Northern Ireland to remain in a customs union and fully aligned with the EU on goods);
  • allow for continued North-South cooperation on the island of Ireland, which will need to include practical solutions in areas including the environment, health, agriculture and security;
  • address the often conflicting interests within and between sectors addressing the high levels of uncertainty afflicting a number of economic sectors including fisheries and agriculture;
  • choose its preferred model for managing the financial sector: recognise a trade-off between regulatory autonomy and access to EU markets in financial services and indicate what the choice will be;
  • propose what kind of governance and dispute settlement arrangement it wants and decide on the institutions it wants to govern future relations with the EU
  • set out details on the future devolution settlement clarifying the UK’s own governance arrangements;
  • represent a significant improvement over the first Brexit white paper, which consisted of a series of highlights from the Lancaster House speech. Less policy prescription than a ‘greatest hits’ collection.

 The report acknowledges the significant political constraints which the Prime Minister is having to act but emphasises the need to make choices nonetheless.

 Equally, it argues that a bespoke deal – cherry picking parts of the single market with only partial oversight – is not on offer. This means the UK either has to shift its red lines or accept an inferior deal to the one that the Prime Minister has been selling for nearly two years.

 The 15-chapter 36 page report was written by leading academics involved with The UK in a Changing Europe.

Brexit impacts workers rights in UK

Part-time, fixed-term and agency workers, many of whom are women and from minority ethnic communities, may find that their rights at risk after Brexit a new report by The UK in a Changing Europe and the Oxford Human Rights Hub finds.

The EU has generated important regulations for the protection of precarious workers, namely the Part-Time Workers Directive, the Fixed Term Workers Directive and the Agency Workers Directive. Given these are not protected by primary legislation in the UK, they could be amended by ministers through Henry VIII powers without going through the full parliamentary procedure of primary legislation.

 The report ‘The Continuing Impact of Brexit on Equality Rights’ finds the EU Withdrawal Bill weakens equality and human rights after Brexit in three ways:

  1. Removes a possible constitutional protection of equality rights – in the absence of a codified constitution, EU law operates as a constitutional protection of equality rights. There is a possibility that the Equality Act 2010 could be amended by delegated legislation
  2. Weakens remedies that can be used to protect these rights – EU law helps to ensure adequate compensation for those whose rights have been harmed
  3. Creates uncertainty – it will be hard to determine which fundamental rights exist independently from the EU Charter.

 The future of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in the UK remains uncertain. Currently, the Charter is not transposed into UK law by the EU Withdrawal Bill-(which transposes EU law into UK law). This means British citizens may find they are afforded the same protections once the UK leaves the EU. The EU Charter, and the general principles, bolsters the protection of equality rights by ensuring legislation, delegated legislation and directly effective EU law are interpreted and applied in a manner which protects fundamental rights. The situation remains in flux: this week the House of Lords voted to retain the Charter, but it is likely that the amendment will be reversed when the Bill goes back to the House of Commons.

 The report highlights the risks to women’s equality in relation to trade deals after Brexit noting the UK may choose to roll back minimum rights, such as maternity rights or rights of agency workers.

 The EU Withdrawal Bill creates an uncertain and potentially confusing relationship between the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and UK courts, stemming from the differences drawn between EU law before and after exit day. The Bill states the UK Supreme Court will not be bound by retained EU case law and the Supreme Court could deviate from EU case law. The Court will be free to interpret retained case law and general principles of EU law differently than the CJEU and the report finds this could be a moment to leave behind CJEU case law that curtails the growth of equality.

 The UK pioneered equality legislation before the EU including race and disability discrimination legislation. Over the past 50 years, EU law has also proved an important protector of equality rights in the UK, particularly for women and on labour laws. This vibrant, interactive relationship will end once the UK leaves the EU.

 The UK in a Changing Europe and the Oxford Human Rights Hub are holding a Brexit and equality event today at 4pm at the British Academy with keynote speaker, Baroness Jenny Jones (Green Party) and a panel discussion about the key issues around equality rights post-Brexit with Schona Jolly QC (Cloisters), Professor Catherine Barnard (The UK in a Changing Europe) and chaired by Dan Roberts, the Guardian’s Brexit policy editor.

Florence speech: Tone positive, problems unresolved

Professors Anand Menon and Jonathan Portes, The UK in a Changing Europe:

Tone positive, problems unresolved: The speech marked a shift in tone from the PM towards the EU and indeed EU citizens in the UK. And her words on the so-called ‘Brexit bill’ may open the way to progress on this issue. But on the longer term substance we have little but good intentions. On the way UK courts ‘take account’ of the ECJ; on the modalities of security cooperation; and on what dispute resolution mechanisms will underpin any new trade deal, to take but a few examples,  we know no more than we did yesterday.

 Was the speech a success? Only in a negative sense.  The Prime Minister has avoided both an open Cabinet split and a breakdown in negotiations with the EU27. But the price is is that progress in those negotiations will be painfully slow. And ultimately, averting a chaotic “No Deal” Brexit – let alone reaching a “deep and comprehensive” agreement on our post-Brexit relationship – will require difficult and painful compromises, and it is as yet unclear whether Theresa May, let alone her colleagues, are prepared to make them. “

 What does the speech mean for the negotiations?  The UK has a weak hand and every day that goes by makes it weaker.  But to more forward requires more than fuzzy assurances or warm words – not just on money, but on citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland. On citizens’ rights, good progress has been made on some issues but not on the key sticking points; on Northern Ireland the EU is still waiting for the UK to make a serious proposal.  And on the “exit bill”, paying for a transition is a start – but only one item on a long list. Overall, there’s enough to avert any early breakdown – but if the UK really wants meaningful progress, it will have to follow it up with detailed technical offers on all of these issues.

 What does the “transition” period look like?  Theresa May has, grudgingly, secured the backing of her own Cabinet to a status quo transition where the UK will continue to pay its share of the EU’s bills and will remain a member of the Single Market and customs union. Michel Barnier pre-emptively  pointed out that – as the EU-27 has said all along – this will mean that the UK will have to fully abide by all the EU’s rules, including freedom of movement and the Court of Justice of the European Union, but will have no vote or voice.  You could call it membership without the privileges. (Statement from ‘The UK in a Changing Europe’ project in response to Theresa May’s speech in Florence)

“Tone positive, problems unresolved”, said Professors Anand Menon and Jonathan Portes, The UK in a Changing Europe project.

 

 

Brexit: cost of no deal

The consequences of the UK failing to reach a deal with the EU will be “widespread, damaging and pervasive” a new report by The UK in a Changing Europe finds.

 The ‘Cost of no deal’ report examines the consequences of the UK failing to strike either an Article 50 or a trade deal with the EU – what is termed a ‘chaotic Brexit’.

 In the event of a chaotic Brexit, the UK’s nuclear plants may not be able to operate; British airlines might be unable to fly; and both UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens here would find themselves in legal limbo.

 A chaotic Brexit would also have serious political and economic implications for Northern Ireland.

 Potential uncertainty when it comes to monitoring and implementing rules, notably in the area of the environment, could result in weaker protections.

 Legal chaos over the enforcement of contracts is merely one area of uncertainty which will prove costly and time consuming for British businesses exporting to the EU.

 Complex cross-border supply chains would be disrupted, not least because requisite customs checks, tariffs and regulatory barriers will not be in place.

 Drugs developed in the UK may not have their approval recognised in other member states and clinical trials would be disrupted.

 Professor Anand Menon, director of The UK in a Changing Europe, said: “Our findings show a chaotic Brexit would, at least in the short term, spawn a political mess, a legal morass and an economic disaster. This report makes it clear ‘no deal’ is an outcome the British government must strive to avoid.”

 The report shows that a chaotic Brexit might come about in two ways:

 ·  A premature Brexit: where talks break down acrimoniously with the UK unilaterally ceasing to pay its EU contributions and ending the supremacy of EU law in the UK with immediate effect

·   A timed out Brexit: where the talks do not completely break down, but no agreement is reached within the two year period and there is no extension.  

 The likely economic impact of no deal includes: a further significant fall in the exchange rate, a consequent rise in inflation, a fall in wages and consumer demand and a fall in business confidence, leading to a slowdown in investment.

 The report shows there would be serious political ramifications if a premature Brexit occurs. The government is likely to blame Brussels and remain backers at home – creating further acrimony with the EU and bitter divisions in British politics. A mutual blame game will make future cooperation with the EU more difficult.

“’No deal’ doesn’t mean the country would come to a stop. But even under relatively benign conditions and with time to prepare, the impacts would be widespread, damaging and pervasive” – Professor Menon concludes.

Brexit: birth of political identities

BREXIT SPECIAL REPORT: The UK’s decision to leave the EU on 23 June 2016 has given birth to new political identities, a new report by The UK in a Changing Europe shows.

“EU referendum: one year on”, commissioned by the Political Studies Association, the report demonstrates how the referendum has produced new political allegiances based on the Leave-Remain divide. A year on, nearly three-quarters of people think of themselves as Leavers (38%) or Remainers (35%) – a similar proportion to those who identify with political parties.

Leave and Remain cut across the traditional class base of Britain’s two party system. It also seems Brexit has paved the way for a return to two-party politics.

During the snap election, a new type of politics sprung-up: “Brexit Blairism” – which saw Jeremy Corbyn seize the centre ground on Brexit, much like Tony Blair did on economic issues in 1997. Brexit Blairism helped blunt the Conservative’s appeal in Leave areas, while allowing Labour to promote a ‘softer’ alternative to ‘hard’ Brexit in Remain areas.

“Profound and fundamental political changes have occurred since the referendum and it remains to be seen how durable they prove to be,” – Professor Anand Menon, the director of The UK in a Changing Europe, said.

“It is hard, if not impossible, following the snap election to know how the Brexit negotiations will go. The attitude our fundamentally divided, between and within parties, Parliament will take is crucial and impossible to predict” –  Menon added.

Brexit has precipitated significant changes in the orientation of domestic economic policy, by reducing the emphasis on fiscal restraint and deregulation of David Cameron’s government. The report finds the May government is arguably the least ‘liberal’ in economic orientation for four decades.

The UK is far more exposed to Brexit trade related risks than any other EU state except Ireland. Germany and the Netherlands will be less affected by Brexit than the UK and many other member states will feel almost no effect. Authors conclude that the economic strength of the UK’s negotiating position is far weaker than the British public understands.

Almost all the academics who contributed to the report are part of The UK in a Changing Europe, including John Curtice, Swati Dhingra, Jonathan Portes, Catherine Barnard, Matthew Goodwin, Sara Hobolt, Rob Ford, Jo Hunt, Simon Usherwood, Nicola McEwan and Anand Menon.

The 62 page, 28 chapter report written by 38 leading academics, covers politics, economics, public opinion, public policies, the implications for the nations of the United Kingdom and relations with the EU following the UK’s referendum last year.

The UK in a Changing Europe PROJECT REPORT

 

Report: Britons still devided over Brexit

“Profound and fundamental political changes have occurred since the referendum and it remains to be seen how durable they prove to be,” – said Professor Anand Menon, director The UK in a Changing Europe project.

“It is hard, if not impossible, following the snap election to know how the Brexit negotiations will go. The attitude our fundamentally divided, between and within parties, Parliament will take is crucial and impossible to predict” – Menon continued.

Brexit has precipitated significant changes in the orientation of domestic economic policy, by reducing the emphasis on fiscal restraint and deregulation of David Cameron’s government. The report finds the May government is arguably the least ‘liberal’ in economic orientation for four decades.

“Much has changed over the course of the last year, but there is evidence far from enough has been done to think through the process of leaving the EU and the structures and policies we will need once we have left” – prof. Menon said.

The UK is far more exposed to Brexit trade related risks than any other EU state except Ireland. Germany and the Netherlands will be less affected by Brexit than the UK and many other member states will feel almost no effect. Authors conclude that the economic strength of the UK’s negotiating position is far weaker than the British public understands

One year on from Brexit, the report shows that there is little to indicate the UK Government has engaged seriously with the devolved administrations. This will be particularly striking when EU powers – or ‘competences’- start to come back to the UK. The UK Government has indicated that it intends to reaffirm Westminster’s supremacy but after nearly 20 years of devolution, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland argue that powers that return from Brussels over devolved matters like agriculture must go to them, along with appropriate means to finance them. A constitutional clash over such powers may provoke further moves towards Scottish independence.

Highly sensitive issues have been thrown-up in Northern Ireland following the referendum. The report’s authors note if it is not handled well there is potential for “significant disquiet”, both from staunch nationalists opposed to any physical manifestation of a north-south border, as well as hard-line unionists whose identity demands free movement with the rest of the UK.

The report finds that UK regions that voted Leave tend to be those most dependent on EU markets for their prosperity and are most likely to be exposed to Brexit. Compounding this problem, unlike recently constituted city-regions, these areas effectively have no representation. The final UK-EU agreement is likely to have very different impacts on the UK, potentially undermining efforts towards economic rebalancing.

One year on, there is a growing realisation of the “profound implications” Brexit will have on the UK’s environment, including agriculture, fisheries, climate and energy. Former environment secretary Andrea Leadsom noted a third of EU environment policy cannot be copied into UK law (through the Great Repeal Bill) as it makes reference to EU institutions. It is unclear whether the UK will develop alternative governance arrangements to replace these and whether, in devolved areas such as the environment, these will be centralised or devolved. Determining who decides those standards, and their level, will be politically challenging.

The uncertainty and lack of clarity about what Brexit might mean for British nationals in the EU, authors note, “is profound and is causing significant unease”. The referendum result also came as a shock to many EU nationals in Britain, with evidence pointing to an increase in mental health and anxiety disorders. Following the vote it quickly became apparent that promises from Vote Leave that these groups had nothing to worry about were either ignorant, deceptive or both.

The 62 page, 28 chapter report written by 38 leading academics, covers politics, economics, public opinion, public policies, the implications for the nations of the United Kingdom and relations with the EU following the UK’s referendum last year.

Almost all the academics who contributed to the report are part of The UK in a Changing Europe, including John Curtice, Swati Dhingra, Jonathan Portes, Catherine Barnard, Matthew Goodwin, Sara Hobolt, Rob Ford, Jo Hunt, Simon Usherwood, Nicola McEwan and Anand Menon.