Wednesday 13 Nov 2019 | 22:45 | SYDNEY
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European Union

Brexit: “Do or die”

Over the past few weeks, breathless British journalists have published verbatim the private words and long missives of a person known as “No. 10 Source”, who on close inspection is almost certainly Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Chief of Staff. Cummings attracted public

Brexit: Deal or no deal

On 31 October, the UK is once again due to leave the European Union. This is the third such deadline this year. It is possible that there will be a fourth, should the European Council be asked yet again to extend the UK’s membership to provide time for it to leave in an orderly rather than

Houses divided

Many of The Interpreter’s readers are experts on the theory and conduct of international relations. So, quite reasonably, they look at armed conflict through the lens of inter-state relations, where one state resorts to the use (or the threat of use) of armed force to prevail over another. For

Europe and the Anglosphere drifting apart

Beyond the somewhat confusing continental results of this month’s elections to the European Parliament, a longstanding trend becomes clearer. Britain is trying to go alone on its nationalist and conservative way, mirroring the US and Australia. At least on the Monday morning after the

The last straw for Theresa May

After Margaret Thatcher, John Major, and David Cameron, Theresa May is the latest Conservative Prime Minister to have been undermined by her inability to manage the divisions within her party over Europe. May tried to achieve something that was always going to be difficult, respecting the outcome

The greatest British political crisis of modern times

Brexit appears to be approaching a bewildering denouement. Prime Minister Theresa May has reached a dead end with a negotiated deal that met the criteria for leaving the European Union and would have done so in an orderly fashion but satisfied very few. Hard-line Leavers considered it so much

Brexit: Britain’s Commonwealth pivot is nothing new

In the midst of Britain’s painful extraction from the European Union, a saga which deepened this week with a second parliamentary defeat for Theresa May’s Brexit deal, key figures on the Conservative right harbour a quiet hope that the Commonwealth will come to the rescue. Notwithstanding the

Fisheries and Brexit – a slippery affair

Despite accounting for a mere 0.12% the UK’s overall economic output, fisheries is one of the most contentious issues in the Brexit jumble. Highly politicised, negotiations on the future fisheries regime could tarnish the overall outcome of British departure from the EU. Issues of British

Film Review: Brexit – the Uncivil War

A workable divorce deal hasn’t even been inked, yet already one of the most seismic episodes in British political history has been scripted, dramatised, and broadcast to an audience languishing in the deadlock of its aftermath. Brexit: The Uncivil War centres upon the successful Vote Leave

Brexit: British people vote with their feet

With Prime Minister Teresa May’s Brexit withdrawal deal rejected this week by the House of Commons, the future of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union remains as uncertain as ever. Possible scenarios include a further vote on the deal, an exit with no deal agreed, an extension of

Brexit deal debate reveals dark side to EU diplomacy

The saving grace of a nasty divorce is durable insight into the true values of the parties involved. And so, with Brexit. The Withdrawal Agreement – which has triggered rancorous opposition in parliament and a political crisis in the UK – lays bare the diplomatic cards. Whatever its eventual

Brexit: the Northern Ireland conundrum

Seamus Heaney, the late Irish poet and playwright, once (half-) joked that “anyone born and bred in Northern Ireland can’t be too optimistic”. Optimism in Northern Ireland is certainly in short supply. British Prime Minister Theresa May has presented a draft agreement with the European

Europe: Merkel, May, and Moscovici

Underlining the continuing chaos in Europe, it has not been a good week for Germany, the UK, or Italy. The end of the tunnel looks far away, and unrelentingly dark. In Germany, the extraordinary result in this month’s state election in Bavaria has shaken an already weakened Chancellor

European companies driven out of Iran

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering a review of Australia’s support for the Iran nuclear deal. The news comes after US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal in May from what is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The US has subsequently

Not (yet?) a European Army

The headline “Armed force of 10,000 to patrol borders” recently featured from the European Union about Frontex is not quite what it appears to be. It does not herald the nucleus of an European Army, but then again, the EII might. Confused? You are not the only one “lost in EU

French choreography in the Pacific

French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Australia was a frank success, although some observers were puzzled after he raised the idea of a “Paris–New Delhi–Canberra” diamond within an Indo-Pacific axis.  Yet this proposal is clarified by French national objectives

Sea cables in a thawing Arctic

China has made a significant foray into the Arctic with the creation of a data “silk road”. Strongly supported by a newfound closeness with Russia, preliminary planning of a Chinese and Finnish–led trans-Arctic cable along the Arctic’s Northeast Passage in partnership with Japan and Norway

The unending nightmare for Germany’s Social Democrats

Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) is having a political nightmare from which it is unable to awake. Wounded by the experience of four years as junior governing party to Angela Merkel’s conservative Union, in September the party limped to a meagre 20.5% of the vote: their

Macron’s mission to China

During French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to China, which concluded last week, his choice to gift China's Xi Jinping with a horse was apparently prompted by Xi's words of admiration during a 2014 trip to Paris. On that visit, Xi was greeted by a guard of honour from the Garde Ré

Breakdown in Berlin

Since the beginning of Germany's election campaign a few months ago, Christian Lindner has demanded his role on centre stage. His slightly dishevelled face stared out in black and white from every brochure, billboard and advert for the Free Democratic Party (FDP), shamelessly transforming the proud

Macron, America and Iran: Searching for a middle way

French President Emmanuel Macron is considering a visit to Tehran in early 2018. Macron would be the first French President to visit Iran since Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in 1976, and given the tensions between Washington and Europe over the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of

German elections: The collapse of consensus

It is unusual for a major party to assume a 'great responsibility' by being relegated to opposition. But this is precisely the situation facing the German Social Democrats (SPD) following its disastrous election performance last night. Humiliated by its worst result since World War II, SPD leader

Turkey’s EU accession: A useful fiction

By any measure, the German Chancellor debate between Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz last weekend was a dispiriting, monotonous affair. On irrelevant issue after irrelevant issue, both candidates spoke around each other, barely acknowledging one another's presence and finding themselves more often

The Russian ‘taboo’ and the German election

We need to come out of the dead end … Something must be offered so that Putin can change his policy without a loss of face … To express a taboo: I fear that the Crimea must be regarded as a permanent provisional solution. These words caused something of a sensation in Germany earlier this

Clash or compromise: The return of history in Poland

Poland today gets almost uniformly bad press in the West, replete with stories alleging that Beata Szydło's government has all but dismantled the foundations of democracy on orders from Jarosław Kaczyński, Chairman of the governing Law and Justice Party (PiS), often identified as its é

Macron puts his stamp on French foreign policy

French President Emmanuel Macron is striking a new, pragmatic and self-confident tone in the country's foreign policy, for which he's received a lot of kudos. The recent reception for US President Donald Trump in France is a perfect illustration of this new approach. Macron invited Trump to attend

Trump in Warsaw, Hamburg and Paris

Trump divides. Most people are either staunchly against or for US President Donald Trump – if not the man, then what he supposedly stands for. As most commentators find themselves in the former camp, there is no shortage of Trump critiques. Thus this piece will concentrate not so much on

Macron and the uprooting of France

For months the world has waited with bated breath for Emmanuel Macron to save France, Europe and democracy by succeeding in his outwardly improbable campaign to become the next French president. Now that he has, it is time to ask: what, with the 'Far Right' duly slain, does he actually have a

Post-Brexit: Will the Kingdom stay united?

British Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to send the formal notice to Brussels that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union within the next two years has ignited restiveness on the fringes of the Kingdom. Scotland voted by 55% to 45% to remain in the Union in September 2014,

How Erdogan makes EU opprobrium work in his favour

The recent standoff between Turkey and several European countries shocked the world. For the first time in NATO and EU history, a member (or member candidate, in the case of the EU) state's foreign minister's plane was not allowed to land in EU territory (the Netherlands). Another Turkish

Finally, good news for the European Union

Three major recent developments appear to indicate that the EU, at long last, is on the up again: solid growth in the EU; the populist wave apparently cresting with Brexit and the Trump Administration; and it migration appearing to be manageable without totally wrecking 'Schengen',

The EU shouldn’t strike a Turkey-style deal with Libya

Last week, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that EU member states are not obliged to issue humanitarian visas to asylum seekers at their overseas missions. A humanitarian visa would enable a third-country national at risk of torture of inhumane treatment to apply in situ for entry

European defence policy after Trump and Brexit

While international attention, especially from financial markets, is focused on how well nationalist-populist right movements in various EU member states perform in upcoming elections (Marine Le Pen in France, Geertt Wilders in the Netherlands, the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany), more

Theresa May’s Brexit cherry-picking is doomed to fail

In her two recent Brexit speeches, one delivered in London to the representatives of the 27 other EU-members and a second delivered two days later at Davos, May insisted that she wants a clean break: an exit from the single market (implicating the four freedoms) and from full membership of the

The British left must rediscover its internationalism

When the United Kingdom first applied to join the European Common Market in the 1960s, the great Clement Attlee, former Labour PM, rose in the House of Lords to argue against membership. His objections were made on two bases: The harmful rigidity of a political union with European countries,

EU-Turkey relations: A decade of reversals

After the European parliament’s overwhelming vote to freeze Turkey’s EU accession process, the European Council summit that will get underway later today in Brussels will debate relations between Turkey and the EU. For economic and strategic reasons, both the EU Council and the Turkish

Renzi's referendum and the future of the euro

On Sunday, Italians resoundingly rejected the constitutional changes put to them by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Formally, the referendum sought to curtail the powers of the Senate (Italy’s upper house). But despite arguments to the contrary, the real question was: ‘How much pain are you