Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Fails Romanian and Bulgarian Migrant Workers

Romanian and Bulgarian nationals might not be British workers, but they are nevertheless workers. And both the EU and the UK have an ethical responsibility to outline provisions so that Brexit does not further marginalize the very same group of workers who already face discrimination in the British labour market.

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Scotland, Brexit and Independence

The past month has been important for Brexit developments, with UK Prime Minister Johnson attempting a ‘last minute’ Brexit deal with the EU. In particular, arrangements concerning Northern Ireland have featured prominently. But now, all appears to have been set aside for a December UK general election. However, the UK is composed of four nations, and Scotland’s position in the UK union, often ignored in the Brexit context, now appears near to ‘tipping point’, especially after First Minister Sturgeon’s recent  confirmation that Scotland would hold an independence referendum in 2020.

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Fools Rush Out

Few actions when done quickly are done well – and law-making has certainly never been one of them. Late in the evening of 22 October, the House of Commons was asked to approve of a legislative programme which would only have allowed it three days to consider, debate and amend a law which is bound to radically alter the constitutional, political, and economic foundations of the UK. This programme was rightly rejected.

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Brexit, Democracy and Peace in Northern Ireland

How to give the people of Northern Ireland a democratic say over the new legal arrangements that will apply to them under the Withdrawal Agreement? Given the deeply divided nature of Northern Irish society, this is a legal, political and constitutional conundrum. The WA, exceptionally for an EU/international treaty, sets out a complex mechanism regulating how the Northern Ireland Assembly may vote in the future to grant or withhold democratic consent to the terms of the WA as it applies to Northern Ireland. However, this mechanism may yet prove to be a recipe for future political conflict.

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The People Have Voted, Now Let the People Speak

The Brexit stalemate is unlikely to wither. In a smart spin, distracting from the unlawfulness of the Parliament shutdown, the blame for not delivering Brexit is now put on the Parliament. The Parliament and “the establishment” are pitted against the will of the people. Since the 2016 referendum, however, provided for no clear procedural or substantive mandate, no form of Brexit, including remain, can claim its legitimacy based on the “will of the people” unless there is a second referendum.

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Dealing with a Rogue UK Prime Minister

In the current “Brexit” crisis, the EU should strive to achieve a smooth agreement-based process. This is the only way to ensure that the intricate web binding the UK to the EU is not ripped up without a reliable substitute. Boris Johnson’s priority to withdraw the UK on 31 October "do or die“ is next to impossible to reconcile with that aim. Domestically, it will be difficult to halt Johnson’s no-deal plan. But what about the EU? Indeed, there are several measures the EU could take to deal with a rogue UK Prime Minister and to make a smooth withdrawal more likely.

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The Rule of Law, not the Rule of Politics

On 24 September 2019, just two weeks after Parliament had been controversially prorogued by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the UK Supreme Court handed down a unanimous judgment holding that such prorogation was ‘unlawful, null, and of no effect’. Parliament was not and had never been prorogued. But this is not likely to be the end of such questioning of the fundamentals of the constitution and – in particular – the limits of executive power.

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An Alternative to the Brexit Backstop: An All-Ireland “Common No-Custom Area” under Art. 24 GATT

In order to resolve the current stalemate in the brexit negotiations, we propose to establish a “Common No-Custom Area” in Ireland applicable only to products originating in either part of the island. This special regime conforms to the Frontier Traffic exception of Art. 24 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT/WTO) and builds on the “precedent” of Cyprus where a similar regime has been in place since 2004. This practical solution takes into account that a major part of intra-Ireland trade is made up of products originating in either part of the island.

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Is Brexit a Game?

Can Boris Johnson’s and Dominic Cumming’s Brexit strategy be made plausible by means of game theory? I think not. It seems too simple to present the current situation as a two-party game, with the UK (or Boris Johnson) on one side and the EU on the other. In reality, Johnson faces two opposite players—one being the EU, the other the hard Brexit opponents and the Supreme Court at home.

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A Constitutionally Momentous Judgment That Changes Practically Nothing?

The Supreme Court’s judgment in Cherry/Miller (No 2) that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful, null and of no effect was a bold move as a matter of public law. It represents a constitutional court willing to assert its authority as guardian of the constitution. But although potentially of long-term constitutional moment, it changes very little with regard to the fundamental constitutional and political issue of Britain’s membership of the European Union.

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