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Posts Tagged ‘Britain’

Global Britain or globaloney

Posted by hkarner - 18. März 2018

Date: 15-03-2018
Source: The Economist: Bagehot

The government’s post-Brexit foreign policy of “global Britain” is incoherent

THE idea of a global Britain has become the foundation stone of Britain’s post-Brexit foreign policy. Theresa May says Brexit “should make us think of global Britain, a country with the self-confidence and the freedom to look beyond the continent of Europe and to the economic and diplomatic opportunities of the wider world”. Boris Johnson, Britain’s foreign secretary, declares that “whether we like it or not we are not some bit part or spear carrier on the world stage. We are a protagonist—a global Britain running a truly global foreign policy”.

But what does the phrase mean? The Commons foreign affairs committee, newly energised under Tom Tugendhat, summoned the great and the good of the foreign-policy establishment to answer this question. The results were disappointing. Some confessed that they hadn’t a clue. The Foreign Office submitted a memorandum consisting of little more than a set of aspirations with no details about how to put them into practice. Mr Tugendhat’s committee worries that “global Britain” cannot be the basis of foreign policy because it is little more than an “advertising slogan”. This columnist thinks the problem goes deeper. Global Britain is three badly thought out ideas rolled into one. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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British institutions may not withstand the authoritarian-populist wave

Posted by hkarner - 10. März 2018

Date: 08-03-2018
Source: The Economist: Bagehot
Subject: It could happen in Britain

IN HIS dystopian novel of 1935, “It Can’t Happen Here”, Sinclair Lewis described the rise of an American Caesar, Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip. Buzz easily defeats Franklin Roosevelt for the presidency by promising to make America great again. He then sets about destroying the country’s system of checks and balances, by fomenting fear and unleashing activists, while sensible Americans comfort themselves with the belief that their country is immune to authoritarian takeover.

Donald Trump’s election has propelled Lewis’s novel back onto the bestseller list and provoked a lively debate on the question of “Can it Happen Here?”, the title of a new book edited by Cass Sunstein, a Harvard professor and former adviser to Barack Obama. It is time for Britain to engage in a similar debate. The British are even more confident than the Americans about their immunity to extremism. Britain hasn’t had a violent revolution since 1640-60. Rather than rallying to Oswald Mosley’s fascists in the 1930s, the British treated them as figures of fun—black shorts rather than blackshirts, in P.G. Wodehouse’s satire. But the next five years could test Britain’s immune system to the limits. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Why Border Controls on Trade Will Rise Again in Europe

Posted by hkarner - 11. Februar 2018

Date: 10-02-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Stephen Fidler

U.K.’s decision to steer clear of any customs union means new red tape for British exporters

The leading voice of British business argued this week for staying in a customs union with the European Union, saying it was “part of the answer to the tough questions facing the government” over trade.

As the Confederation of British Industry was setting out its case, the government made clear it has other ideas. Britain, it said, wouldn’t be a part of any customs union after the post-Brexit transition period it hopes to secure ends in about three years.

As a result, for the first time in decades, the 180,000 British companies that export to the EU will face bureaucracy at the border. Even if Britain cuts a trade agreement with the EU after Brexit that keeps goods tariffs at zero, administrative costs for exporters to the EU will soar. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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Theresa May is intolerable—but unsackable

Posted by hkarner - 2. Februar 2018

Date: 01-02-2018
Source: The Economist

Britain must hang on to its inadequate prime minister

AFTER she contrived to lose the Tories’ parliamentary majority last year in spite of a widely unfancied Labour opposition, Theresa May was described by one former cabinet colleague as “a dead woman walking”. That harsh description has turned out to be only half-right. The prime minister’s inactivity since the election means that it would be more accurate to describe her as a dead woman standing still.

The lack of policies or purpose in Downing Street, coupled with Mrs May’s frequent political pratfalls, have driven the Conservative Party to the brink of seeking a new leader. The case for getting rid of the prime minister is compelling. But consider more closely what would follow and there is a stronger, though depressing, argument that if Britain tried to replace its failing leader it would be even worse off.

Since her electoral disaster Mrs May has blown several last chances. She mishandled the aftermath of a tragic fire at Grenfell Tower. She spluttered her way through a speech designed to relaunch her premiership, as the set literally fell apart behind her. When she attempted a cabinet reshuffle some of her ministers refused to budge. Worse than these blunders is the vacuum of ideas. The politician whom we nicknamed “Theresa Maybe” a year ago still cannot decide what to do about Britain’s housing shortage, the crisis in care for the elderly or the slow decline of the National Health Service. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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This is a bad time for the special relationship to be under strain

Posted by hkarner - 21. Januar 2018

Date: 18-01-2018
Source: The Economist: Bagehot

Populists on both sides of the Atlantic are dragging Britain and America apart

THE opening of the new American embassy should have been the highlight of London’s diplomatic season. The American president himself had been lined up to cut the ribbon on the billion-dollar building. The media had been primed to produce articles about the embassy’s clever features (a reflective pool that doubles as a defensive moat!) and eye-catching design. But then Donald Trump pulled out of the ceremony on the grounds that the new embassy was in an “off location”, and, prompted by Emmanuel Macron’s offer to lend Britain the Bayeux tapestry, the media shifted its attention to the wonders of the entente cordiale.

It is tempting to see the embassy fiasco as a metaphor for the state of Anglo-American relations. The special relationship is more important now than it has been since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The obvious reason for this is Brexit: there would be no better way to get Britain’s post-European future off to a good start than to strike a trade deal with the world’s biggest economy. There is also a subtler reason. Britain and America are both liberal champions that have been shaken by populism. Strengthening their ties, which were forged in wars against Nazism and then communism, is a good way of reminding both countries of their common liberal heritage. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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Uncool Britannia?

Posted by hkarner - 22. November 2017

Date: 21-11-2017
Source: The Economist

How Britain will appear to its friends?

Clothing, shoes and sunglasses can be cool; songs, plays, films and meals sometimes qualify too, as can people’s attitudes. But what about countries? Britain, 20 years ago, was labelled “Cool Britannia”. In the run-up to Brexit, will 2018 turn out to be the year it is widely viewed as Uncool Britannia?

Cool Britannia was always something of a marketing gimmick, one that Tony Blair’s slick spin-doctors were naturally happy to cultivate. But it did capture a period of increased pride in British culture and leadership in the late 1990s. The expression echoed “Rule, Britannia”, a patriotic song. Politics, music, fashion, the arts, food, football: people in Britain, and abroad, seemed to feel that things in the country were going refreshingly well.

This came as a striking contrast with the painful 1970s (when Britain was often seen as the “sick man of Europe”) and the rowdy 1980s (when Margaret Thatcher always seemed happy to pick a fight, however necessary this might be in order to recover from that sickness). Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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British politics is being profoundly reshaped by populism

Posted by hkarner - 18. November 2017

Date: 16-11-2017
Source: The Economist

Britain ought to have been immune to populism. Instead it is becoming an unlikely victim

BRITAIN should have been better placed than any other country to fight off the populist fever that is spreading around the world. The House of Commons is one of the oldest representative institutions on Earth. The country’s last violent revolution was in the middle of the 17th century. With politicians as different as Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher denouncing them as “a device for dictators and demagogues”, Britain avoided nationwide referendums until 1975 and has only used them three times. The British erect statues to statesmen and women in Parliament rather than to “the people”.

Yet British politics is currently being reshaped by populism. The essence of populism is the belief that society can be divided into two antagonistic classes—the people and the powerful. The people are presumed to have a single will. The powerful are presumed to be devious and corrupt: determined to feather their own nests and adept at using intermediary institutions (courts, media companies, political parties) to frustrate the people. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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Brexit Poses Risk to U.K.’s Existing Economic Order

Posted by hkarner - 10. Oktober 2017

Date: 09-10-2017
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Simon Nixon

At last week’s Conservative Party conference, there was growing concern at where the process is heading

British Prime Minister Theresa May

The British people didn’t vote for a revolution. They simply voted to leave the European Union. But senior figures across the political spectrum believe that a revolution is what Britain is getting.

Contrary to what Brexiters said during last year’s referendum—and continued to insist until recently—Britain’s departure from the EU is going to be anything but easy. It is increasingly clear that Brexit was an act of violence against the existing economic order.

There is scarcely a corner of the U.K. economy that is unaffected by the decision to reverse 43 years of European integration. At last week’s conference of the ruling Conservative Party, there was growing concern at where this process is heading and how it might end.

What makes Brexit so destabilizing is that it shares two features common to revolutions. First, it has created a parallel legitimacy, pitching the supposed “will of the people” expressed in the referendum against the traditional sovereignty of Parliament, thereby constraining the ability of elected representatives to exercise their own judgment.

Second, it has created a power vacuum. Brexiters campaigned under the slogan “Take Back Control,” but they never agreed who should take control of the powers currently held by Brussels. They shook the economic order but without a coherent plan as to what to put in its place. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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All about Boris: Is Boris Johnson really unsackable?

Posted by hkarner - 8. Oktober 2017

Date: 05-10-2017
Source: The Economist
One of the great puzzles of politics is how the foreign secretary keeps his job

BORIS JOHNSON is a serial problem for the Conservative Party’s high command. He is always plotting behind the scenes to get the top job. He has been flagrantly disloyal on the most divisive issue facing the government. Days before Theresa May delivered a speech in Florence laying out the government’s considered position on Brexit, he published an article laying down “red lines” for Britain to keep within during its negotiation. He is also gaffe-prone. The day before Mrs May’s big speech to the party conference he joked, to nervous laughter from his fellow Tories, that Sirte, in northern Libya, could become “the next Dubai” if they could “clear the dead bodies away”.

So why doesn’t the prime minister sack him? One reason, as with almost everything in British politics, lies in Brexit. Sacking a man whose allies call him the “godfather of Brexit” might upset the delicate balance of forces in the cabinet. Another reason is Mr Johnson’s popularity in his party. A YouGov poll found that he is favourite among party members to be the next leader. The Daily Telegraph, a Tory-leaning newspaper, splashed his conference speech on its cover with the headline, “The roaring lion”. Mr Johnson knows how to cheer up the Conservative troops at a time when it is all too easy to give in to despair. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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How Britain Lost Its Cool

Posted by hkarner - 6. Oktober 2017

Mark Leonard is Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

In the past 20 years, the UK and Germany have switched positions, with the latter now representing openness while the former has come to embody backward-looking nationalism. But there is no reason to believe that the two countries won’t swap places again.

BERLIN – The recent meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May in the Estonian capital of Tallinn was a portrait in contrasts. Merkel has pursued openness and internationalism, and leads a country with a world-beating industrial base and strong trade ties. May talks more about the past than the future, and has disparaged “citizens of the world” while claiming to defend her country’s confused national identity.  Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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