Theresa May's gamble to not only extend the Conservative Party’s majority in the Commons, but also to protect her position as prime minister utterly failed. It is time for May to change her strategy and stop viewing the negotiations as a battle between the UK and the EU.
Theresa May’s decision to announce pretty extreme red lines has limited London's negotiating position considerably. The EU-27 can use Britain’s confrontational strategy to prove that they are indeed capable of a unified response.
Hardly any day passes without a headline story about one of the three Brexiteers threatening the EU with a nasty breakup if they do not concede to British demands - free access to the single market without (or very limited) free movement of labour and no payments into the EU budget. They give the impression that the British government can dictate the future relationship between the EU and UK, even though the former has most of the bargaining power. Key elections in Germany, France and Italy in the upcoming year complicate negotiations even further.
Theresa May has repeatedly stated her ambiguous slogan “Brexit means Brexit”. But which Brexit does she mean? A hard or a light Brexit? The Norwegian, Swiss or a completely new British model? The referendum only asked the electorate whether they want to stay in or out of the EU. Even nearly three months after the referendum, it seems, the Brexiteers still don’t have a plan what Brexit means.
Most Germans have followed the Brexit debate with bewilderment. Nobody really expected that the nationalistic and anti-immigration arguments of the Leave campaign would win. While it was always clear that it would be an extremely close call, most commentators and experts believed the rational arguments would win. After all this vote has not only far reaching consequences for Britain and the EU but also for future generations.
Boris et al. won the referendum. Yet their reactions suggest that they haven't actually thought about what happens in the case of a Vote Leave victory. Boris is continuing to mislead the public. Nobody really knows what he actually wants. The Know Nothing team is assuming he's after a Norway style EU deal. This wouldn't lead to any substantial changes. Already disgruntled voters might be even further disillusioned.
After months of emotional campaigning, Britain has voted to leave the European Union by a margin of 4%. Or rather England (minus London) and Wales. Nicola Sturgeon already announced that Scotland being dragged out of the EU against its will is "unacceptable". The FTSE 100 decreased by 8.4% in the first minutes after trading and the pond plummeted to a 31 year low. Meanwhile, the Twitter community was fast to react to the referendum results.
Today British voters vote on whether to stay in the EU or not. Months of campaigning has left Britain deeply divided. The referendum has not only split the Conservative party and many families across the country, but also the print media. The widely read tabloids are overwhelmingly anti-EU and are often willing to spread lies and ignore facts. They take huge advantage of many voters' lack of knowledge of the rather complex EU institutions to further their political ideology - often against the interests of their readers. This is bad for Britain and Europe.
The Know Nothing team returned from a long weekend trip to Belgium yesterday. Entire generations were “destroyed by the war” in the battlefields of the two World Wars around Ypres and the Ardennes, which KNE visited. Numerous museums, memorials and cemeteries keep the memories of the tremendous loss of lives and sacrifices of war alive. But what does this tell us for tomorrow's referendum?
Most Germans are somewhat baffled by the idea of Great Britain wanting to exit the European Union. Obviously not all Germans are fervent supporters of the often bureaucratic EU institutions, but a deep-rooted commitment to the ideas of European cooperation exists throughout all political parties. Even the eurosceptic “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) advocates for the country to remain in the EU.
European governments are increasingly outsourcing hugely complex questions to the people. Often they are pressured by populist movements into referendums the electorate fails to grasp in their entireties. Sometimes governments are even forced into adopting policies that are incoherent with existing bilateral treaties or violating minority rights. However, referendums do not manage to return trust in "governing elites" and reverse increasing political apathy.
In one month Britain decides on whether it wants to stay in the European Union. Even though the public debate on the topic was never exactly rational - now even the Treasury Select Committee and the Treasury Authority are stepping in to criticise the increasingly hysterical campaigns. While most heavy weights with economic authority agree that leaving the EU will not have any significant benefits to outweigh the potentially major recession leaving the EU will cause (at least in the short term), the Vote Leave campaign is focussing further on migration.
On 23 June 2016 UK citizens will be able to vote on whether to stay in the EU or not. It is an issue that has been hotly debated throughout the European Union - with even Barack Obama joining the debate recently. Strangely, parts of the Conservatives and "Old Labour" seem to be convinced that exiting the EU is the right choice. Of course they have very different motivations. But why is the "neoliberal argument" flawed?