POLITICS & POLICY
Brexit is still a hot topic in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. On Tuesday, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Parliament has the legal authority to vote on the activation of Article 50. The decision didn’t come as a total surprise, nonetheless it provoked quite a stir in the political landscape. Both the Labour and the Conservative party risk internal rifts on the issue of activating Article 50 to formally start the process of leaving the EU. Meanwhile Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the Government will publish a White Paper on the Brexit negotiations. The official document will aim to give the Parliament a clear base for debating ahead of the Article 50 vote. The document is expected to repeat the guidelines set out by the Conservative leader in a speech last week.
On Wednesday, Owen Smith, a Labour MP and former challenger of Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of the party, wrote an editorial for The Guardian arguing that he would not vote in favour of triggering Article 50. Meanwhile, even Theresa May faces an internal rebellion from many Tory MPs demanding a deeper reflection on the opportunity for the UK to remain in the European Single Market. After the Supreme Court’s ruling, Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Party, claimed that he will reunite all MPs from all parties with the goal of scrutinizing the Government and the Brexit process. Farron also rounded on Jeremy Corbyn, dubbing Labour opposition as the “most ineffective in living history”.
On Wednesday, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn confronted each other on the occasion of the weekly Prime Minister’s question time. Corbyn asked May to specify when she plans to release the abovementioned White Paper, and accused Tories of transforming Britain into a tax haven at the borders of the European Union. May retorted by accusing the Labour leader of not being able to speak for his own party, as divergences on the Brexit topic exist among many members of the shadow government.
Across the Channel, the European Parliament kicked-off an investigation into the UK Government’s actions vis-à-vis requests for permanent residency from EU nationals living in Britain. Meanwhile, Mike Hawks, the chief executive of the Society of Motor and Manufacturers and Traders warned the Government that the country needs some sort of Single Market arrangement after Brexit in order to safeguard jobs in the UK.
International trade deals are back under the spotlight. On Thursday, a group of European intellectuals lead by Marco Bronckers, a Dutch lawyer and Leiden University professor, published a manifesto on European trade policy. The document defends the legislative procedures foreseen by the European treaties to define common trade policies for the EU member states. The document was signed by more than 40 academics from all over Europe and is meant to counterbalance the Namur declaration, released in December 2016 by Wallonia Prime Minister Paul Magnette, which called for changes in the EU’s legislative mechanisms to improve their democratic character.
In other news, radical right-wing movements are making the headlines in Germany. On Wednesday, the German police arrested two people accused of planning terror attacks on refugees, Jews and the police itself. The arrested are said to belong to the right-wing group “Citizens of the Reich”, an extremist movement that rejects the legitimacy of the current Republican State. The police intervention was part of a wider breakdown on right-wing extremism that took place on Wednesday in six different German lander. The German newspaper Tagespiegel reports that in 2016 the number of right-wing extremists who are thought to be “ready to conduct violent actions” increased by more than 10,000 units.
“We have to end this 3% deficit dogma”.
Benoît Hamon, French Socialist Party member and candidate in the party’s primary election.
Source: EurActiv, 26.01.2016
The “class pay gap” between professional employees coming from poorer backgrounds and their peers from more privileged families.
Source: The Guardian, 26.01.2016
Photo Credits CC Markus Spiske
Also published on Medium.