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

September 18, 2019

No doubt, this is a constitutional crisis

We have been very careful with the expression constitutional crisis in the past. We cannot recall a genuine constitutional crisis in a big western democracy, in the sense that the constitutional machinery itself was at stake. There is now more than a whiff of a constitutional crisis in the UK. The UK's unwritten constitution was clearly not designed to handle events as complex as those associated with Brexit. A written constitution may well be one of the main results of this crisis, however it ends. But, until that moment arrives, the notion of a constitutional crisis seems appropriate to us.

The immediate issue is not Brexit itself, but the prorogation of parliament. The Supreme Court yesterday held hearings on this case, the first over three days. In his written submission to the court, Boris Johnson yesterday told the justices that the matter of prorogation was none of their business - constitutionally inappropriate, as he called it. He said it was politically acceptable for governments to prorogue parliament for their own political advantage:

"The courts have no jurisdiction to enforce political conventions. Although they can recognise the operation of a political convention in deciding a legal question, such as the extent of a duty of confidentiality, they cannot give legal rulings on its operation or scope, because those matters are determined within the political world."

It is one thing to defend your position in a court, but quite another to dispute the court's right to make a decision. Johnson's lawyer at the court, Lord Keen, said the prime minister would comply with a ruling by the Supreme Court, but also made it clear that he could prorogue parliament again if it suited him.

Show Comments Write a Comment

September 18, 2019

Macron's immigration bid

Emmanuel Macron pursues a strategy taking to the left over climate change and social policies. His latest move suggests that he is now aiming to conquer the right on immigration. This is his way of staying neither right nor left.

On Monday he co-opted ministers and a majority for his plans to toughen immigration policies by insisting that the only political adversary is the Front National. By putting immigration back on the agenda, Macron made it clear he is up for the presidential elections in 2022. This is his opening bid. French media also sees this as his way to contribute to the local elections next March. After all, polls suggest that his constituency of supporters has shifted to the right. With this move he talks directly to them.

An Ispos/Sopra Steria poll on divisions in French society published Tuesday showed that 63% of respondents felt there were too many foreigners in France. Anti-foreigner sentiment was strongest among working-class respondents, with 88% saying there were too many immigrants.

But this is a dangerous game, too. Once Macron launches a debate on immigration there is no going back, and people will expect action. Wooing Marine Le Pen's voters after two years of non-action on immigration may also benefit the original more than the copy. Macron will have to refocus the debate and use his majority to deliver better responses than proposed by Le Pen. 

Commentators recall what happened to Nicolas Sarkozy, who tried to court far-right voters while in office by talking tough on immigration but without significantly changing French laws. Sarkozy later failed to secure his re-election. It is Macron's turn now. The heat is on.

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

  • January 22, 2020
  • Erdogan and European Libya diplomacy
  • On the importance of mutual recognition agreements in the Brexit trade talks
  • September 17, 2019
  • Beware of the diplomacy of humiliation
  • Germany’s climate hypocrisy
  • May 10, 2019
  • Target2 debate raises legitimate questions with unsatisfactory answers
  • No more German questions please
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • August 28, 2018
  • Urban politics and national crisis - the Irish case
  • How anti-semitism became one of the main issues in British politics
  • April 23, 2018
  • More bad news for the SPD
  • Will Theresa May accept a customs union? The Times says yes. We think so too.
  • A comeback for Marine Le Pen?
  • December 21, 2017
  • Catalonia votes
  • A deputy prime minister resigns
  • Will Gibraltar result in another Irish fudge?
  • Blood, sweat and tears
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • December 19, 2016
  • Inside the customs union, outside the single market
  • Back to the future in Italy
  • The lessons from Fillon's first gaffe
  • Montebourg - a bit of everything
  • The Maastricht error
  • If Paul Romer is right...
  • 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
  • February 06, 2020
  • One left, others want to join - the new EU accession process
  • On the practical limits of fiscal policy
  • January 21, 2020
  • A truce over French digital tax and US tariff retaliation - really?
  • Climate crisis faces central banks with radical uncertainty
  • Why strong enforcement rules will be critical in the EU/UK trade agreement
  • January 06, 2020
  • A decade that started with a bang
  • What to expect of Spain's next government
  • Divide et impera: Macron's pension reform strategy
  • December 16, 2019
  • What the failure in Madrid says about multilateral governance
  • December 02, 2019
  • Will pension reform protests spiral out of control?
  • Malta's PM resigns over murder case
  • November 18, 2019
  • Is Macron facing another uprise against elites?
  • Forget the inflation target: Lagarde’s job is much bigger.
  • November 08, 2019
  • Rethinking security - Macron edition
  • Rethinking defence - AKK edition
  • October 29, 2019
  • People's Vote descends into Civil War
  • CDU at odds on dealing with extreme parties
  • October 21, 2019
  • Philippe to brace for more union protests
  • Greens are the electorates' new favourite
  • October 14, 2019
  • What is Turkey's medium-term game?
  • Germany sabotages EIB climate change policies
  • October 07, 2019
  • What did Conte know?
  • September 30, 2019
  • A pyrrhic victory for Kurz
  • Will there really be UK elections?
  • 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
  • September 23, 2019
  • Corbyn’s last big battle
  • Germany’s CO2 compromise meets all targets - except the climate targets
  • September 20, 2019
  • Violence in Northern Ireland - not so far-fetched after all
  • German coalition fails to agree climate deal, but negotiations continue
  • September 19, 2019
  • Italy's 2020 budget will be a moment of truth
  • Austria's soft faced far-right
  • September 18, 2019
  • No doubt, this is a constitutional crisis
  • Macron's immigration bid