November 17, 2016
Sarkozy's Brexit plan
Nicolas Sarkozy has a comment in the FT, in which he sets out a good series of proposals for the eurozone, and the EU's future relations with the UK. It is only shame that he did not make those proposals when he had the chance to do so. In this article he covers both the future of the euro, and the future of Brexit. On the euro, he writes, that more political integration is needed - though his vision appears to us as rather short-sighted. The EMS needs to be developed into a European monetary fund, the eurozone should be given its own secretariat with the goal to drive integration forward.
"The Europe of the euro needs to deepen its integration, under sound economic governance, once and for all. The foundation for this was built during the crisis in 2010-11, when the European Stability Mechanism was created and eurozone summits began. This Europe needs to take a few steps further, providing more permanent leadership for its eurozone summits, setting up a central secretariat to serve as Europe’s treasury, and turning the ESM into a fully fledged European monetary fund. The other Europe, the 27-member union, should revert to its original intent."
On Brexit he writes that the result from the referendum needed to be accepted. While this seems to be a rather conventional statement to make in the UK, it is considered wildly eccentric outside the UK with intense coverage of Bregret or Bremain type scenarios.
Peter Foster has a good analysis of where we stand with Brexit. He writes in the Daily Telegraph that the only way to square the various positions of the UK is an eventual free trade agreement with deep service sector chapters. All these need to be flashed out, or carved out, as Foster calls it, and this is what most of the negotiations will be about. He writes that several barriers need to be surmounted, but this does not mean that they unsurmountable. He said two factors weigh on the process. One is technical, the other, and more important one, is political. If the mindset in the EU is one of penalising Britain, then the Brexit will become correspondingly hard. Foster urges all sides to refrain from megaphone diplomacy (we presume he has Boris Johnson in mind in particular, who ability to produce silly outrages seems unaffected by him having become foreign secretary).
The FT, meanwhile, reports that Theresa May and her government are already preparing for the eventuality of a defeat in the Supreme Court. In that case, the government plans a short bill, with a single paragraph only since the shorter the bill, the harder it is to amend. The key parliamentary group is to decide on the fate of Article 50 is the Labour Party, given the Conservatives narrow majority, and deep splits. While some Labour MPs, from London for example, will not support an Article 50 trigger, the paper has talked to one senior Labour source as saying that the party would not fight hard to prevent or amend Article 50. We want to move on and put it in the category of things past, the source said.
And, finally again, there is some evidence that Twitter in particular has impacted the Brexit referendum. Giuseppe Porcaro and Henrik Muller looked at 890,000 tweets and concluded that, as a form of agenda-setting elite media, they are far more effective in referendums than during normal elections because of their ability to shift voters in one or the other directions right up to voting day. They are particularly effective in referendums where large portions of voters are initially undecided. That was clearly the case with Brexit.