Brigid Laffan Profile picture
I'm Director and Professor at the @RobSchuCentre and Director of the Global Governance Programme @EuropeanUni
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11 Feb
This is the second time in one week that I have to engage with something written by a British academic on their assessment of Brexit & Ireland. In this case @HelenHet20 in @NewStatesman 🧵
1. @HelenHet20 Europe’s vaccine crisis has revealed the true nature of the EU?? Ireland has been a member state since 1973, has had more refs on EU topics than any other country & thus its political & administrative elite knows & understands EU @BrigidLaffan
2. Said elite & electorate never idealised EU-small states are acutely aware of limits of their power & deploy capacity with care-the Swedes coined the term smart states. Small states understand they have to be smart. @BrigidLaffan
Read 11 tweets
6 Feb
Not often I read something @Telegraph that I feel has to be taken on but Vernon Bogdanor’s opinion today is one such piece. Bogdanor is one of the leading scholars of the British Constitution & has an in-depth knowledge of Irish history so there are no excuses @KingsCollegeLon
1. His assertion that the Northern Ireland Protocol has fallen at the first whiff of grapeshot is evidence of a scholar rushing to judgement just 4 weeks into the implementation of a complex set of legal provisions @BrigidLaffan
2. He rightly identifies problems the Protocol causes for GB-Northern Ireland economic exchange but argues that any flexibility EU would agree to would not solve the problem because the problem for him is constitutional. For him the Protocol cannot work @BrigidLaffan
Read 12 tweets
23 Jan
Am prompted to do this 🧵 following @BEERG sharing of Gove 19 April’16 speech, @kevinhorourke observation on interests & ideas & @CER_Grant observation that historians will ponder the weakness of economic interests in Brexit negs at @InstituteGC yesterday @BrigidLaffan
1. Seems to me that @BorisJohnson has delivered on the @michaelgove 2016 speech in one important sense-not the sunny uplands of Brexit but the working out of what Brexit was to this clique who drove the Leave campaign @BrigidLaffan
2. That was a total rejection of the #EU model of internationalisation, its governance regimes, institutions, regulatory frameworks, its ideals & the political, economic & legal order it represents. @BrigidLaffan
Read 9 tweets
8 Dec 20
Extensive U.K. discussion on #EU27 approach to #Brexit. Began with @anandMenon1 & @jillongovt who suggested 1 reason for hard Brexit is ‘defensive’ EU. Now @Mij_Europe has a poll offering the ‘defensive’ option. @NashSGC has thread explaining why EU defensive-SM. @BrigidLaffan
1. EU must defend the gains of integration both polity & market power. This is not ‘defensive’ as in anxious but defending achievements @BrigidLaffan
2. Membership has to matter or why would states submit to mutual vulnerability. If the #Brexit argument is to throw off constraint why would the 27 allow an imbalance between rights & obligations especially for a large state @BrigidLaffan
Read 7 tweets
4 Dec 20
Participated in a very interesting panel this week @StAntsCollege @UniofOxford & was asked 2 excellent questions by @KalypsoNicolaid & @fromTGA on why #EU27 was united against UK but not Putin & XI Jinping & why UK leaving EU was more a threat than Hungary @BrigidLaffan
1. Unity stemmed from existential nature of #Brexit-first country to leave EU, a vote of no confidence in the Union & the hard Brexiteers led by Farage wanted destruction of the Union @BrigidLaffan
2. #EU27 had to protect the polity & the market against UK’s departure. Membership has to matter-if a former member could retain lots of rights while outside the club the internal equilibrium of the Union would be jeopardised. @BrigidLaffan
Read 5 tweets
10 Nov 20
Thread on EU too defensive claim from @anandMenon1 & @jillongovt in #Brexit negs. EU27 had something to defend & continues to have. What. 1. The share polity, Union. 2. Collective achievements-SM & shared policies. 3. Quality of membership. @BrigidLaffan
2. U.K. a was champion of outouts/opt ins. Had bespoke membership but that was not enough to keep UK in. Post ref-U.K. never set out a clear landing zone for post membership relationship that had worked through the trade-offs. @BrigidLaffan
3. U.K. set down redlines on SM, CU & Court that narrowed the possible deal that EU could agree without undermining its core principles & balance of rights & obligations which is critical to future of EU. @BrigidLaffan
Read 9 tweets
17 May 20
Very pessimistic @TheEconomist editorial on #EU this issue. Fully agree with the failings/challenges identified but editorial distorts the Union’s history in two ways. 1. Says that EU has had a ‘sense of direction’ in the past & this time EU has lost its way. @BrigidLaffan
1. At the end of the 1970s following the two oil crises, EU had many common problems but no agreement on direction/solutions. Found that direction in SEA & single market. In fact @TheEconomist was also very concerned by EU capacity to govern. @BrigidLaffan
2. Treaty change which the editorial suggests was continuous was in fact episodic. First major treaty change post Rome took almost 30 years-treaty change not the EU norm for much of its history. We should expect treaty change to be episodic. @BrigidLaffan
Read 7 tweets
10 Feb 20
Short thread on Irish election #GE2020 for my non-Irish followers. 1. #FF the party that informed Peter Mair’s ‘cartel party’ will not be a cartel party again. It will never regain its pre-crash standing. 2. SF emerged as the largest party in vote terms. @BrigidLaffan
The performance of #SF was a surprise given their 2019 EP & local elections performance but they managed to frame a manifesto that really resonated with the electorate @BrigidLaffan
The election was not about BREXIT but domestic issues-housing & health were the top two. Irish voters not concerned about jobs or the economy for the first time in 10 years. @BrigidLaffan
Read 9 tweets
17 Sep 19
@BBCnews & @SkyNews & the multiple correspondents tasked with reporting/commenting on #Brexit you have a tendency to frame & report on optics not substance. Short thread on why yesterday was a very bad day for #UK @BrigidLaffan
1. GAC ministerial meeting met in Brussels yesterday. UK left an empty chair. Message-we won’t waste our resources on what concerns you even though it was a discussion about ‘rule of law’. Not smart when PM is going to Lux to meet #Juncker. @BrigidLaffan
2. Commission President Juncker & @MichelBarnier were cordial but clear in the post meeting statement. It is U.K’s ‘responsability’ to come forward with ‘legally operational solutions’. Despite the spin there are no such solutions on the table. @BrigidLaffan
Read 6 tweets
29 Aug 19
#Brexit beyond current crisis. Question. If we assume that the #HMG & U.K. need a deal with EU27 at some stage, how does what PM Johnson is doing affect this. @BrigidLaffan
1. #HMG has increased risk & uncertainty for all of Europe but has not put a single document with credible solutions on the table. David Frost & Steven Barclay have got to Burssels saying we want a deal but no solutions. @BrigidLaffan
2. @BorisJohnson has just now prorogued parliament which heightens U.K. crisis & signals to EU27 that political turmoil is gripping U.K. There is no incentive for EU27 to do anything other than keep channels open. @BrigidLaffan
Read 8 tweets
21 Aug 19
Now that peak Brexit approaches & London has ratcheted up blame game, let’s review how UK has handled Brexit. Brexit negs will be used as a case study. UK political elite especially those in power will be judged to have made an appalling mess of same @BrigidLaffan
1. No attempt was made to find a domestic accommodation following a narrow Leave win given the scale of what Brexit implied. @BrigidLaffan
2. PM opted by October 2016 for a hard Brexit & by January Lancaster had boxed herself in by setting out incompatible preferences-@rdanielkelemen trilemma. @BrigidLaffan
Read 14 tweets
11 Aug 19
@RonanMcCrea has an op-Ed in @sundaybusiness today on backstop. @BrigidLaffan
Much to say but I will identify what I think is most problematic about the argument. 1. The use of the word ‘simply’ to suggest that Irish agreement to move border issues to phase 2 of talks is just that-simple. No it is not. @BrigidLaffan
Ireland has deployed its state capacity to get the support of 26
Countries on an existential issue. It would completely undermine Ireland’s standing & EU credibility & we would not be thanked. @BrigidLaffan
Read 9 tweets
6 Aug 19
1. @hayward_katy & @DavidHennick1 have outlined the reasons for the backstop in detail & done us all a service. This thread is about the implications of the current impasse for British-Irish relations-the context of what is playing out. @BrigidLaffan
2. #Brexit brings into sharp relief the troubled history of the two islands. What is shocking yes shocking for Ireland is the carelessness with which our neighbour went about its #Brexit business. @BrigidLaffan
3. Having spoken at events during the campaign, I was left with the overwhelming sense that most in the audience did not know what the implications of Brexit would be for the island of Ireland & more significantly did not care-yes did not care despite platitudes. @BrigidLaffan
Read 17 tweets
4 Jul 19
This thinking in London from @Conservatives is just very unwise. Why? @BrigidLaffan
1. @BorderIrish is a European & US issue not just Irish issue-listen to German President today. 2. UK redlines mean that future relationship cannot solve the border so there will have to be special arrangements. 3. UK had 3 years to offer legal solutions-could not.@BrigidLaffan
4. If U.K. leaves without a deal-damage to N. Ireland very serious. 5. Irish electorate has watched this saga unfold & will not blame Irish Gov. 5. If U.K. ever wants a deal with EU, Oireachtas will have to agree. @BrigidLaffan
Read 4 tweets
14 Apr 19
Short thread on Ireland’s management of Brexit negs. 1. Ireland did its homework & had a contingency plan ready by 24th June 2016. 2. Ireland held 400 meetings with partners between June 2016 and March 2017. @BrigidLaffan
3. Ireland worked to get border as a priority because it did not want the border to be a pawn in future relationship negs. For Ireland it was not technical or about trade, it was about the stability of the island. @BrigidLaffan
4. Irish Gov engaged actively with society-All Island Civic Dialogue, Brexit Stakeholder Forum, Sectoral dialogues, supports to make Irish business Brexit ready. Oireachtas paid a lot of attention to Brexit. Sustained effort to make this a consensus issue.@BrigidLaffan
Read 4 tweets
9 Mar 19
Short thread 1. Not sure that @SteveBarclay & @Theresa_May are fully aware of what they are asking of #EU27 to make one last shove to get the deal over the line. The EU has been here before with David Cameron. Context is everyhing. @BrigidLaffan
2. EU was grappling with the Euro crisis followed by the refugee crisis in summer 2015 when David Cameron came calling for his renegotiation. Despite misgivings, UK’s partners gave him significant concessions & there was unhappiness in other member states. @BrigidLaffan
3. Having got a deal, it sank without trace & had no impact on ref other than as an object of attack. Cameron did not sell it. As we know the Remain campaign was very poor & Leave won. @BrigidLaffan
Read 5 tweets
4 Mar 19
Thank you @jillongovt for posting this-must listen. Great to have a focus on the future. Interestingly I disagree with Sir Ivan on his portrayal of the #EU approach to negs- technocratic & run by the theologians & not strategic in summary. @BrigidLaffan
In my view EU had 3 strategic interests to protect in Brexit negs which it has done. 1. Following the portrayal of EU as weak & disintegrating during ref, EU had to assert its centrality in Europe. @BrigidLaffan
2. Membership has to matter/a departing state that wants to retain a lot of the status quo cannot be allowed to do so. 3. The rules based system had to be protected. @BrigidLaffan
Read 6 tweets
14 Jan 19
@CER_Grant @NewStatesman @CER_EU Thoughtful & interesting with important insights but must disagree on a number of issues @BrigidLaffan
@CER_Grant @NewStatesman @CER_EU 1. The U.K. post Brexit cannot avail of the European Arrest Warrant unless there is ECJ oversight- any request would be challenged in EU27 courts. Other areas that involve individual rights are similar @BrigidLaffan
@CER_Grant @NewStatesman @CER_EU 2. It is really dangerous for the #UK’s future to wrap itself in a punishment narrative-the #EU has not bullied the UK is leaving on a voluntary basis-comfort blanket of EU punishment will prevent the state & society of taking ownership of the choices it has made @BrigidLaffan
Read 7 tweets
25 Sep 18
@BrigidLaffan Eight reasons why implementing Brexit is a wicked problem for U.K.
1. UK’s adversarial political culture translates party preferences into national interest without the reflex found in consensus democracies.
2. @BrigidLaffan many U.K. electoral contests are not contests because of the proportion of safe seats-limits the political efficacy of electorate.
Read 9 tweets