Phil Syrpis Profile picture
Professor of EU law @bristolunilaw. Not sure there's time for much beyond #brexit, but here's hoping... All views are my own. Retweets are not endorsements.
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11 May
I have commented before on the hypocrisy and double standards which characterise the actions of this Govt. From that perspective, the debate about Scottish independence is going to be... an interesting watch. 1/8

The Govt, once the champion of 'sovereignty' and 'taking back control' now finds itself... defending the Union.

The contortions Ministers are going through are quite something. 2/8
So, for example, we are hearing...

1. That absent a clear majority in the popular vote, the SNP, which received 48% of the vote, lacks the mandate to have a referendum.

Remind me what % of the popular vote David Cameron won in 2015? [Answer: 37%] 3/8
Read 8 tweets
10 May
A couple of thoughts on Scottish independence and Brexit, prompted by this thread from @paulwaugh.
Self-determination and sovereignty are powerful concepts, which supporters of Brexit/Scottish independence do rely on.

Yet, they are difficult concepts, given the extent of international interdependence and cooperation (on trade and beyond) 2/
One should think about both the sovereignty gains and losses associated with participation in the relevant 'Union' (UK/EU); and also the future relationship with ex-partners after 'independence'. 3/
Read 11 tweets
9 May
Watching as the Labour party, once again, descends into uncivil war. It cannot coalesce around any policy position or agree on who is best placed to deliver it. 1/6
We've been hearing a lot from ghosts of the past - Mandelson, McCluskey, McDonnell, Pidcock, Flint, Adonis and more. Much of 'the analysis' harks back to either Blair or Corbyn. It makes for grim reading and grim viewing. 2/6
We've been hearing a lot about the need to 'learn lessons' and 'listen to the people' and 'engage with voters' real concerns'. But what if (outlandish thought this) 'the people' disagree, and are sending a range of different messages? 3/6
Read 7 tweets
7 May
The Labour party is not in a good place. On almost every issue there are strong voices within the party calling for a decisive policy/strategy move. Problem is, these voices are calling for moves in diametrically opposite directions. 1/5
If it is to recover, it needs to discover a sense of purpose and narrative. That is a huge task (and I'm not going to go there now).

But. 2/5
There are (to be simplistic) two reasons why Labour is losing. One is that the Labour offer doesn't appeal. The other - much more significant factor - is that the Johnson offer does appeal. 3/5
Read 5 tweets
4 May
My corner of twitter seems to be dominated by the internal Labour party debate between supporters of Corbyn and Starmer. I agree fully with @sturdyAlex that it is not a productive use of anyone's time.

Here though are 2 things Labour party supporters *should* be doing. 1/7
1. They should be striving to understand *why* a large % of voters (in Hartlepool and elsewhere) are still supporting Boris Johnson's government, and *what* might make them change their vote. 2/7
2. They should be thinking not only about vote shares, but also about vote distribution, and how they can *win* elections. If Johnson's vote is at c 35-45%, and is 'sticky', how can he be beaten? 3/7
Read 7 tweets
20 Apr
So... the European Super League.

Three thoughts from a football fan:
a) It has been coming;
b) but, the proposal is incoherent; and
c) the Govt's position is... interesting

a) We reap what we sow. Football, at the top level, has long been governed by the relentless search for profit. Links with fans and communities have progressively been weakened. Stories like the @AFCWimbledon story are few and far between. 2/10
The big clubs are owned by millionaires, who want to maximise their profits. They want financial security, and hate risk/jeopardy.

Failing to qualify for the Champions League, or at a different level, relegation from the Premier League, spells financial disaster. 3/10
Read 10 tweets
18 Apr
I keep saying that if the opposition parties are going to make headway against the Tories, they have to work together.

The lobbying scandal provides a good challenge - one which they seem to be failing. Short thread. 1/7
Sleaze, cronyism and corruption are back. It isn't just Greensill - it is also PPE/NHS contracts, housing, the ministerial code etc etc.

It is part of an unprecedented, and very dangerous, attack on the constitution and public institutions. 2/7…
The Govt's defence is two-fold.

First, to have a pliant enquiry, and to feign that this issue is taken *very* seriously.

And, second, to seek to draw all politicians (and, better civil servants too) into the mire, and further reduce trust not in them, but in politics. 3/7
Read 7 tweets
12 Apr
There are a growing number of people, on various sides, saying that remainers are to blame for *this* Brexit, because they refused to back Theresa May's Brexit deal, which would have avoided many of the GB/NI border problems.

One thing in particular perplexes me. 1/3
The curious thing is that I have seen very few people seek to level a similar charge at the Govt.

It is, after all, they who made changes to Theresa May's deal, they who insisted that the UK leave the customs union, and they who agreed the NI Protocol. 2/3
It is they who do not have an answer to the Irish border trilemma. If, as they do, you insist on regulatory autonomy, there has to be a border between the EU and the UK - the only question is where to put it. 3/3
Read 4 tweets
9 Apr
Has anyone written anything about the financing of COVID testing?

I'm just reacting to the news stories about people having to pay for multiple tests if they go on holidays abroad. 1/4
We have had *a lot* of testing done so far - for going to school, for going to workplaces, if symptomatic, etc etc. All of that has been free (at least for those being tested). 2/4
So... my questions:
How does one distinguish between situations in which testing is free and not? Are we moving towards more paying for testing? What would the implications be of making all COVID testing free? 3/4
Read 4 tweets
8 Apr
Next question. What is @BrandonLewis going to say and do today? It strikes me that he has two options. 1/4
First, he could commit to the NI Protocol and explain the work that is ongoing, within the very limited confines of the TCA, to 'de-dramatise' the GB/NI border. Ideally he might even explain the Protocol, and the reasons why it was agreed. 2/4
Or second, he could respond to the real concerns of the Unionist community, and make promises, incompatible with the NI Protocol and the TCA, not to introduce 'unconstitutional' intrusions onto UK sovereignty. 3/4
Read 4 tweets
7 Apr
One more go at the Irish border 'trilemma' (see @rdanielkelemen's Venn diagram) and Brexit.

The implications of the latest developments are very stark. Thread.

While the UK and the EU were in the same regulatory space (single market and customs union) there was no need for significant border checks between the two. 2/
Then along came Brexit. Over the years since 2016, Brexiters' position has hardened. Sovereignty and regulatory freedom were prioritised. And so, solutions which would have 'solved' (or 'de-dramatised') the Irish border issue were rejected. 3/
Read 14 tweets
1 Apr
Late last night, I had a dream that I was given access to the work which is being done, deep in the bowels of Downing St, for the Brexit inquiry. I only remember snippets, but here goes... THREAD. 1/8
The conclusions have already been written. Teams (led by a respected cross-party group of members of the House of Lords (Hoey, Stuart, Hannan and Moylan were mentioned)) are now seeking out the evidence. 2/
Brexit is a triumph. Global Britain has been reborn. Our sovereignty has been regained. We have regulatory autonomy and unfettered trade. The Govt has worked day and night to deliver on the people's priorities, and must be celebrated. 3/
Read 8 tweets
31 Mar
I started to read the Commission Report on Race and Ethnic Disparities (attached).

It is jaw-dropping in places. This, from the foreword, for example... 1/2…
'We increasingly felt that an unexplored approach to closing disparity gaps was to examine the extent individuals and their communities could help themselves through their own agency, rather than wait for invisible external forces to assemble to do the job.' 2/2
Just two more points on this.

1. 'Helping themselves' is *not* an 'underexplored approach'. FFS.

2. If 'external forces' were more visible that might, who knows, be an improvement. FFS.
Read 7 tweets
28 Mar
OK... So I have read the self-styled 'hugely significant' revelations in the Mirror so that you don't have to.

Highlights in the thread below. 1/10

But just in case you want to have a read yourselves, the link is here:…
The purported huge significance attaches to possible breaches of the Nolan Principles.

ICYMI, there are already a huge number of examples of breaches by Johnson and his Cabinet colleagues in the public domain. People don't care. 2/
But perhaps they do care about the details of the tryst. That, for better or worse, is where the article puts its focus.

It seeks to make a lot of the bond which Jennifer had with Boris (or should that be 'Alexander the Great'). Some examples... 3/
Read 10 tweets
21 Mar
This appears to have taken off somewhat - thanks for all the retweets and comments.

Several people are asking what can be done. A couple of small suggestions follow. Do share other, no doubt better, thoughts too. 1/5
The first is directed towards those who have the chance to interrogate the Govt (media, MPs etc).

Try to explore their position on these sorts of issues - where do they stand on eg breaches of international law and the Ministerial Code, international COVID comparisons... 2/5 speech, the right to protest, cronyism, etc etc. How do Ministers etc seek to explain their position? Juxtapose what they said then with what they are saying now.

Which brings me to the second point. 3/5
Read 5 tweets
21 Mar
The double-standards and hypocrisy of the Govt and its outriders - on almost all fronts - is dizzying. I get that it is a deliberate strategy, but really struggle to understand how so many people are taken in.

Just a few examples... 1/7
The sanctity of international commitments, Treaties and contracts. If we are prepared to breach them when it suits us, how outraged can we really be when the EU, or China, or Russia, does the same? 2/7
The Ministerial Code. Breaches by Patel and Johnson are waved away. But breaches by Nicola Sturgeon are, it seems, in a different category. 3/7
Read 8 tweets
15 Mar
In the Sarah Everard case, there is an emerging trope - criticising those who have 'politicised' her death, and intimating that the protests would not be welcomed by her family and friends.

There are a few things here worth unpicking. Thread. 1/9
First, I am not sure on what basis people are presuming to know what Sarah's family and friends are going through, and how they are reacting to the way things are unfolding. My guess is that they have a wide range of views and thoughts. 2/9
Second, it is worth distinguishing between the publicity which Sarah's death and the investigation into it is attracting; and the broader debate about womens' safety, the role of the police and the right to protest. 3/9
Read 9 tweets
13 Mar
This is appalling. And the Govt is introducing legislation to increase police powers to restrict public protest. 1/2
Literally on Monday, this legislation will get its second reading. 2/2
And I’m reading that Labour is going to abstain. Is that right? Surely it can’t be right? @Keir_Starmer @ThangamMP
Read 4 tweets
11 Mar
Sometimes the news cycle works in ways which are incredibly jarring.

Here are three instances, from the last week, of what may be called 'cancel culture'. 1/5
First, the latest manifestation of the 'war on woke', featuring Piers Morgan and Ian Murray. We are supposed to be outraged by the 'silencing' of these people. 2/5…
Second, the Government's latest attempt to silence protestors (the Bill is due to receive its second reading on Monday). I don't think that we are supposed to notice the silencing of these people. 3/5…
Read 6 tweets
6 Mar
A 1% pay increase for nurses would equate to 'more than £500 million a year'. 1/5
For context, the cost of test and trace (over 2 years) is £37 million. 2/5…
For added context, in November, the Govt boosted defence spending (over 4 years) by £16.5 billion. 3/5…
Read 5 tweets
5 Mar
These (by @hayward_katy and @NashSGC) have set me thinking about Brexit and the NI Protocol in a new way.

The EU has had to be, and will continue to be, *reactive* in the Brexit process. And it is difficult to assess how to react when faced with the UK Govt. THREAD 1/11
The EU's first choice would (I think) have been that the UK did not choose to leave the EU, but rather worked within EU structures. But, it was the UK's sovereign choice to leave, and choose to leave it did. 2/
The question was then how to manage the process of Brexit. The integrity of the single market, and the protection of the GFA, quickly emerged as the EU's primary aims. 3/
Read 11 tweets