No longer Theresa Maybe?

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May held a speech outlining the UK government’s strategy for the Brexit negotiations, which was commented on all over Europe. On Conservative Home, Mark Wallace praised May’s speech, underlining how important it was that she clarified to be ready “to walk away”, because “no deal is better than a bad deal for Britain”. Wallace also claimed that although the UK Parliament will have a say on the negotiated Brexit deal, it will be a “take it or leave it” option. Finally, Wallace argued that May held a conciliatory but firm tone, which signals her intentions to address the most pragmatic parts of European institutions.

On Open Europe, Stephen Booth, argues that May’s speech confirms that the UK Government does have a plan for Brexit. Moreover, the 12-point plan shows that she has a vision for the UK in the world, and that she knows how to link the latter with Britain’s domestic situation. The Economist’s Bagehot column too highlights the tough attitude of the British conservative leader, although with much less enthusiasm than Wallace and Booth. Ending on a sarcastic note, Bagehot writes that: “[Britain] will eat its cake and live with an empty plate afterwards. Brexit really does mean Brexit”.

On The Independent, James Moore focuses on the Labour party’s prospects in the aftermath of the hard Brexit option. He claims that with the Tories and the UKIP lining up on the same front, Labour needs to take a clear stance in defence of the Remain camp. However, Moore underlines that Jeremy Corbyn’s latest words on Brexit do not point at all into that direction. According to him, Corbyn “is heading nowhere” at best, and “following the UKIP and May down the road” at worst. Consequently he calls for the Labour party to split up as to let the Labour “remainers” to partner up with the Liberals and the SNP, establishing an unconventional coalition for Britain in the European Union.

Reacting to populism

On Social Europe, former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer calls the EU to focus on its own institutional, economic, and legal integration amid Trump’s reference to a weakening of NATO. Fischer claimed that the EU needs to rapidly develop the capacity to confront a hard power challenge, and calls for Germany and France to take the lead in developing a defence union.

On Carnegie Europe, Judy Dempsey underlines that developing common defence capabilities should be Europe’s first objective at this stage. However she also argued that the EU needs to enforce new free trade agreements with strategic partners such as Canada, Japan, Singapore, and New Zealand: the EU, Dempsey concludes, cannot just accept the protectionist mantra of Donald Trump.

Richard Youngs, on Carnegie Europe, calls for political analysts to “unpack” the varieties of populist forces gaining ground in Europe: “Populism is often used in such a broad, catch-all fashion that it makes for extremely imprecise analysis and policy prescription”, he writes. More importantly, he asks intellectuals to leave aside the “nebulous notion of a “block populist threat”: “One suspects that it has become convenient for mainstream politicians to structure the political debate in terms of ‘populist versus the rest’ partly in order to exonerate their own misdemeanours”, he concludes.


This Ideas Monitor is by Carlo Burelli and Alexander Damiano Ricci


Photo Credits CC Number 10 


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