We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.

January 14, 2019

Our Brexit predictions

Beneath the large number of headlines suggesting massive troop movements, there is eerie quiet - of the before-the-storm kind. Theresa May will lose her meaningful vote tomorrow. Jeremy Corbyn will at one point table a vote of no confidence, probably next week. And MPs are scheming.

The reality remains that there is no unified majority around any alternative to the current deal. This is why Dominic Grieve’s attempt to seek control of the House of Commons' timetable is ultimately not as important as the Sunday Times suggested yesterday, when it broke the story. Also, as the FT notes this morning, Grieve's motion is unlikely to succeed for a number of technical reasons. 

A far more plausible scenario is one of deals and counter-deals. Theresa May will lose her vote tomorrow, possibly by a smaller number than forecast. Jean-Claude Juncker will write her a letter to say that the backstop is temporary. Negotiations on the wording of the political declaration were still going on over the weekend. 

As Mujtaba Rahman (@mij_Europe) suggested in an informed series of tweets yesterday, the EU might go further and agree to amending the backstop, but only after it becomes clear what the House of Commons wants. We, too, have been arguing that the EU’s position is more flexible than official statements suggest. Wolfgang Munchau writes in his FT column that the EU could do even more: open up the withdrawal agreement, and formalise the position it has already taken informally - of ruling out an extension of Art. 50 except to give extra time for the ratification of a deal that is approved in principle. 

We also noted that, to the extensive frustration of his supporters, Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said he favoured what he called a negotiated solution over a second referendum. Corbyn seems to have shifted his views on freedom of movement, which is a more important development because this could form the basis of a compromise. The UK could, for example, settle in favour of the Norway option. We don’t think that this would be superior to the deal May negotiated, but it is surely superior to extreme options of a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum. 

And finally, FAZ reports that the EU is woefully unprepared for a hard Brexit. We are not surprised. The EU has discounted this possibility from the outset, and has thus not devoted any serious energy and funding to solving the problem. Germany has only just created financial room for 900 new jobs to deal with extra customs modalities that would be required to handle the massive amount of German exports to the UK. But this is not enough to avoid complete chaos. The best way forward, FAZ writes, would be for the UK to join the EU’s Common Transit Procedure as a third country. This treaty is used to facilitate trade with Norway and Switzerland, which are also not in the EU’s customs union. This would allow customs procedures to be shifted away from the physical border. There is, in other words, a notion of a managed no-deal. There are very good reasons to object to a no-deal Brexit. But queues at Dover are probably not the most important one.

Wolfgang Munchau writes: Here is my prediction/expectation of the process as of January 14. After tomorrow’s defeat, there will be a serious cross-party attempt to map out an amended version that seeks to accommodate a number of alternative views: the EU will have to offer different language on the Irish backstop (without sacrificing the principle); the political declaration will need some amendments; the UK parliament must be given the leading role in the definition of the future relation. The political declaration needs to be amended, not to prescribe any concrete alternative to May’s Canada-Plus deal but to make them possible in principle. For example, the EU is not in a position to offer EEA membership, as this would also require the explicit consent of the EEA members themselves.

My main scenario is that the amended deal is passed. But, if not, I think the next procedural step would be new elections followed by another parliamentary vote on the then-latest version of the deal. Under any likely outcome of the election, a deal will then be passed.

Show Comments Write a Comment

January 14, 2019

1789 - Macron's version

Brace for two months of the grand débat in France. Emmanuel Macron officially opened the floor for the direct consultation with citizens at the municipal level, starting tomorrow and lasting until March 15. The Five Star Movement might have their social network platform Rousseau, but Macron is counting on the local mayors and their administration for this exercise in participative democracy.

In a letter Macron invites the French to express their views of how they want the state to operate and how citizens are to participate. Structured, yet open in its remit, the letter aims to give the gilets jaunes the feeling that they are heard, but only if they refrain from violence. The 35 questions Macron put out in his letter raise the issues of fair taxation and public savings, administrative decentralisation, environmental transition, and transport, as well as more participation through elections or referenda. The letter also put on the table the hot topics of immigration and secularism, asking about how to integrate immigrants in French society and what the relationship should be between state secularism and religions. His most concrete questions are about how citizens are to participate in a democracy, and are likely to become the focus of these debates.

Macron promises to take the results into politics, reflected already the European elections. It is a brave move that has a chance to calm down the gilets jaunes or to frustrate everyone with an even bigger wave of public anger to come. 

So close to the European elections this is a risk not only for France but for the EU as well. Marine Le Pen already sees the European elections as a means to vote anti-Macron.

Even without the rise in public anger, these consultations still can produce uncomfortable results for Macron and his government. Pressure groups can push some of their issues to the forefront, and the network could be overburdened with producing conclusions from such a vast exercise. 

We were reminded of the cahiers de doléances in 1789, the open books where everyone had the chance to express their hopes and grievances directly to the King Louis XVI before the états généraux led to the French revolution. Macron must hope he will be both Louis XVI and Lafayette, with the good people listening to the latter pleading to leave the former on his throne.

Show Comments Write a Comment

January 14, 2019

Tsipras calls confidence vote after Kammenos pulls out

There was much fuss in Greece about the survival of the Greek government after Panos Kammenos announced his resignation from the government. So far only Kammenos and his deputy minister Maria Kollia-Tsaroucha resigned their government posts.  Tsipras called a vote of confidence, with his 145 MPs he needs another six to come up to 151 votes to win. According to Kathimerini's count this should be possible. If he does not secure the 151 votes he is aiming for, he will be under pressure to set a date for Greeks to go to the polls in the near future, certainly before the European Parliament and local elections towards the end of May, writes Macropolis. The confidence vote will be held Wednesday or Thursday this week.

In Macedonia, meanwhile, the parliament cleared the last hurdle and adopted the constitutional amendments for the Prespes agreement to be passed on to the Greek parliament.

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.


Recent News

  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • November 09, 2017
  • From street protests to road closures
  • What Russia wants
  • January 31, 2017
  • Project fear against Italexit
  • On how not to frustrate Brexit
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 21, 2019
  • Philippe to brace for more union protests
  • Greens are the electorates' new favourite
  • February 07, 2019
  • Forget Tusk - the real action is elsewhere
  • On David Malpass and the Trump legacy
  • May 28, 2018
  • A no-confidence motion that could backfire
  • The political repercussions of a historic referendum in Ireland
  • Why the lack of an international role for the euro matters
  • September 15, 2017
  • Juncker dragged into the Catalan fray
  • What to say in Florence
  • How to fill the gap left by the British MEPs
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 26, 2019
  • How Brexit has given rise to different perceptions of reality
  • The EP, not Madrid, will boost Spanish clout
  • How realistic is a Gaullist Europe?
  • September 17, 2018
  • About the new partnership between Russia and China
  • EU ponders Irish backstop protocol to help May
  • February 07, 2018
  • A short note on bitcoin
  • July 04, 2017
  • On the CDU’s programme
  • Macron defines his presidential style
  • Why do we criticise modern macro?
  • November 28, 2016
  • And now what Monsieur Fillion?
  • The inescapable logic of an interim agreement
  • On Germany's foreign policy post-Trump
  • How to lose against the populists
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 26, 2019
  • Could Johnson be headed for an electoral landslide?
  • Macron's conquest of public opinion over pension reform
  • Marion Maréchal keeps dream of political comeback alive
  • March 29, 2019
  • Don't take Macron for granted
  • Green is EU's future - Loiseau takes a stance
  • October 01, 2018
  • After the referendum, more turmoil in Macedonia
  • What will happen if the UK parliament votes No?
  • Barnier's no-thanks works much better than a yes-please
  • April 03, 2018
  • Is the time for Brexit revocation running out?
  • October 04, 2017
  • On why Theresa May is likely to survive
  • On how to resolve the Brexit talks
  • Social housing - not a good start for the French government
  • April 11, 2017
  • What to expect, and not expect from Schulz
  • The view from Berlin
  • The view from Moscow
  • October 17, 2016
  • Ceta is dead for now
  • L’après-Hollande, c'est Hollande
  • SPD against Russia sanctions
  • Nissan to join customs union and other fanciful tales
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 02, 2019
  • What Boris wants...
  • Ditched again - the decline and fall of Manfred Weber
  • May 27, 2019
  • The rising chances of a no-deal Brexit
  • January 18, 2019
  • Why Dublin won't yield on the backstop
  • Town hall debates vs street protests - who is winning?
  • September 13, 2018
  • Bravo Mr Juncker for raising the issue of the euro’s international role. But what now?
  • Are the eurosceptics imploding?
  • May 10, 2018
  • Time for some clear thinking on Trump and Iran
  • Will Corbyn accept the EEA? Brexiteers can relax. He won't.
  • What next for the DUP?
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • August 24, 2017
  • Legislative hyperactivity for Tsipras' new narrative
  • On the deep causes of euroscepticism
  • April 23, 2017
  • The demise of the AfD has accelerated dramatically
  • On how France will need to confront Germany
  • December 21, 2016
  • A culture of denial
  • Ukraine agreement hangs in the balance
  • Valls U-turn on 49-3
  • Beware of exotic Brexit options
  • August 22, 2016
  • Gold for Brexit
  • EU and Turkey talking past each other
  • Switzerland is the next migrant transit country
  • On the death of neoliberal economics
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 31, 2019
  • Meet Workington Man
  • NordStream 2 get final go-ahead
  • October 08, 2019
  • Brexit extension as casus belli?
  • If you appoint a woman, I can appoint a man
  • September 17, 2019
  • Beware of the diplomacy of humiliation
  • Germany’s climate hypocrisy
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 23, 2019
  • When Europe lacks a strategy
  • LibDems are back, but British liberalism is not
  • July 05, 2019
  • Why it is difficult to legislate against a no-deal Brexit
  • June 18, 2019
  • Retaliation threats over drilling
  • May 29, 2019
  • Untangling the confusion about a no-deal Brexit
  • Meet Germany's serial blunderer
  • May 13, 2019
  • Brexit Party has already changed UK politics
  • Orbán visits Trump, after a very long wait
  • Le Pen's appeal to the PiS likely to fall on deaf ears
  • April 29, 2019
  • Labour's national executive to vote on second referendum
  • What the debate about electric cars says about Germany
  • April 15, 2019
  • Finland's far right changes the game
  • Brexit party drawing almost even with the Tories
  • April 02, 2019
  • Meaningless II
  • What will come out of the grand débat?
  • March 21, 2019
  • Looks like deal vs no-deal - just what May always wanted
  • March 11, 2019
  • Ask what Europe can do for Germany - AKK's EU manifesto
  • February 27, 2019
  • EU bets on stable dictatorships to guard its south
  • The grand débat context for the unemployment insurance reform
  • Survey suggests that political dividing line in Europe is between France and Germany
  • February 19, 2019
  • Neither seven dwarfs, nor the magnificent seven. Merely a sad day for Labour
  • Will Costa last through the stand-off with the unions?
  • February 11, 2019
  • SPD dumps Hartz IV
  • Macron's revival
  • February 04, 2019
  • Watch out for the resurgence in Tory unity
  • The gilets-jaunes' effect on the European elections
  • What did he possibly mean by that?
  • January 28, 2019
  • Battle of the amendments
  • How the Prespes deal affects the next Greek elections
  • January 21, 2019
  • Some thoughts about the historical origins of European integration
  • January 18, 2019
  • Why Dublin won't yield on the backstop
  • Town hall debates vs street protests - who is winning?
  • January 16, 2019
  • And now think about this standoff from the perspective of the EU
  • What can the French learn from Brexit?
  • January 15, 2019
  • A first set of important concessions by the EU
  • Tsipras struggling to find votes to defeat confidence motion
  • Is the national tax veto a good EU election topic?