Brexit Catch-Up

It has been a very busy few weeks in the Brexit Saga. On March 29th, Prime Minister May officially triggered the exit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The expectation then was that the EU and the UK would quickly begin the intense negotiations that must be conducted before they hit the two year deadline at which point the UK must leave the EU. However, on April 18th, May surprised everyone at home and abroad by declaring there would be a General Election on June 6th. You can listen to a special episode of the podcast about the snap general election here. So now the negotiations have to wait until after this election has concluded and a new government is formed. The expectation is that the Conservative party will win big and that May will have the political capital to enact whatever variety of Brexit she should choose. Those favoring a 'soft exit' hope that with the power of a large majority, instead of the slim one she inherited from Cameron, May will be less beholden to the Eurosceptic backbenchers who they blame for her, thus far, tough rhetoric. Whether or not this is wishful thinking is difficult to determine as of yet.

Theresa May took power in last year’s leadership contest with two main catchphrases; ‘Brexit Means Brexit’ and Britain ‘will make a success’ of this mantra. However, it is very difficult to gauge what May's true intentions are regarding the looming Brexit negotiations. It cannot be denied that she has played a political blinder in creating for herself an image of being tough with Brussels and the home-based detractors of Brexit. Even though she was in the Remain camp during the referendum, May is putting herself forward as the only leader who is capable of knuckling down to enact the will of the people and not allowing the UK to be punished by Europe for making these choices. This has resulted in the Prime Minister making a number of comments attacking EU chiefs and warning them to stay clear of domestic UK affairs (even if they are related to Europe). Europe’s problem so far appears to be in its reactions to these outbursts by the PM. It would be best placed to take a breather and continue to prepare for the negotiations, whenever they eventually begin. In the heat of a general election that is essentially being fought on what will be done in the looming deal, it is very difficult to separate the conjecture and infer what her real intentions are. That is, even if we ever will be able to determine what a politician's 'real intentions' are...

Considering this is a show hosted by two fellas from the island, it would be amiss not to note the inclusion of Ireland and its border question to three core goals that the EU have stated they wish to see prioritized in whatever shape the Brexit deal might take. The EU have declared they do not wish to see any disruption to the Northern Ireland Peace Process as a result of Brexit, includes avoiding any hardening of the border on the island between north and south. A particularly surprising point was that they also wish to have it agreed between all parties, that should partition in Ireland between the two states on the island ever end, that a united Ireland would be automatically regonised as a member of the EU. This is similar to what occurred in the German unification in the early 90s, with the united East & West being automatically recognised as one Germany by the EU. This received quiet a few gasps around Ireland and the UK, but it should be noted that is really just a legal formality and does not really increase the likelihood of Ireland uniting in the near future.