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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Jun 28 9 tweets 2 min read
I've been thinking about the 'electoral pact' criticism, and the way in which Labour and the LDs might respond. There are various arguments they might choose to use. 🧵1/9 First - and we've seen this already - they might say that there is no pact and that political parties can choose where to deploy their resources. They might add, as many have done, that it is a bit rich for the Tories to be complaining about electoral pacts. 2/9
Jun 27 9 tweets 2 min read
Recent events in the UK and the US illustrate the importance of constitution structures.

The UK and US Constitutions are at opposite ends of the legal/political constitution spectrum. 🧵1/9 In the UK, the prevailing call is to increase political and judicial controls over the executive.

In the US, it is the actions of the Supreme Court which have caused alarm. 2/
Jun 22 4 tweets 1 min read
Reading of the Bill of Rights Bill; one quick comment.

Courts are given a range of powers and obligations, and are then entreated to 'give great weight' or indeed 'the greatest possible weight' to particular rights and principles.…

Is this a new formulation? It is certainly going to be difficult to apply. Take eg clause 7.

In determining incompatibility questions, and where it is necessary to decide if the right balance has been struck between competing aims or rights... 2/
Jun 21 10 tweets 2 min read
A thread on the politics of the rail strike: on what the Govt, and the Labour Party, will do next. It is all so predictable. 🧵 1/10 The Govt is opportunistic. While it may not welcome the rail strike, it is certainly ready and able to exploit it for its own political advantage. 2/10
Jun 17 4 tweets 1 min read
The Government's openness to breaching international law is, as Lord Geidt says, widely publicised and wide-ranging.

It is often justified by saying that international law (or, ffs, 'lore') does not exist, or that it is not binding but voluntary. Two points. 1/4 First, the Govt is transparently wrong. And yet the 'status of international law' debate has gained a lot of attention. The way it has been seized on in the right wing media and in the Tory Party (including Braverman and Raab) is extraordinary. 2/4
Jun 11 6 tweets 2 min read
My take on the state of play after Johnson won this week's no confidence vote by 211 to 148 has been published by @WEBylines.

Here's a very short thread. 1/6… It is all too easy to hope that the Tories will implode and that the opposition should sit back and enjoy the blue-on-blue action.

But... a divided party and a weak PM is ripe for exploitation by absolutists on the Tory right. 2/6
Jun 3 9 tweets 2 min read
A simple way of thinking about Govt policy is that it is about a) economic policy - the size of the pie; and b) social policy - the distribution of the slices.

This is an attempt to look at the Govt's 'levelling up policy', and Labour's response, through that lens. 1/9 The traditional left/right economic divide is easy to sketch.

The right tend to focus on economic policy (the size of the pie), the left on social policy (the distribution of the slices). 2/
Jun 3 11 tweets 2 min read
The reaction to @Tobias_Ellwood's remarks on the single market - from both the Tories and Labour - is quite something. 1/11 On the Tory side, the remarks are reported to have raised the PM's spirits, and to have boosted the chances of surviving a VONC.

I don't see that at all. 2/11
May 30 8 tweets 2 min read
It has been 6 days since the Sue Gray report landed. Way back then, the humble PM said he took full responsibility.

Having been asked not to pass judgement or comment while we awaited the 'full facts', we were, immediately asked to move on.

How's that been going? 🧵1/8 First, #partygate is going nowhere. Why? Because the PM is, again, failing to take responsibility.

We've had more party allegations (Sue Gray's mandate only ever involved investigating parties on a list of dates); met with more obfuscation. 2/8
May 25 19 tweets 3 min read
My 'hot takes' on the Sue Gray report, the PM's statement in the Commons, and the PM's future. 1/
(The report itself is here:…) First, we should not forget the terms of reference. Sue Gray was asked to establish a general understanding of the nature of the gatherings in scope (see paras 13-17).

Her task was NOT to establish whether the law was broken, nor whether the House was misled. 2/
May 22 9 tweets 2 min read
I've been thinking about the (new) educational divide in politics and the role of Universities and the Govt. I might have the beginnings of a theory. 1/9 The common account is that the reason graduates are strongly hostile to the Govt is that students are somehow brainwashed by their 'leftie' lecturers, and that Universities need to be shaken up in order to restore some sort of balance. 2/9
May 20 17 tweets 3 min read
A look at the NI Protocol from a slightly different perspective; looking to see where solutions can be found, and where positions need to be clarified. Long 🧵 - sorry. 1/17 There are two separate questions, which need to be distinguished.

The first question is, *to the extent that there needs to be a border between the UK and EU*, where should that border go? 2/
May 15 15 tweets 3 min read
It is difficult to keep track of the shape-shifting arguments of the UK Govt on the NI Protocol (I've been listening to Frost, Kwarteng and Burns).

There are several strands which come up. The Govt is all too rarely interrogated about the detail. 1/13 🧵 The most obvious point is that the core problem - that there now need to be border checks between the UK (or GB) and the EU - is caused not by the Protocol, but by this Brexit. 2/
May 11 15 tweets 3 min read
This shouldn't need saying again, but in view of today's media coverage of the NI Protocol, perhaps it does.

The problems are *not* caused by the NI Protocol, but by this particular form of hard Brexit. 🧵 1/12 While the UK and Ireland were both part of the EU and the EU single market, it was possible for both N/S and E/W border checks to be minimised.

And then the UK decided to do Brexit. 2/
May 11 11 tweets 3 min read
See this thread from… 2018.

Since then the UK and EU agreed the ‘Irish Sea border’ option; which the DUP doesn’t like (and which Johnson brazenly assured them wasn’t going to happen). 1/11 We are now urgently seeking alternatives (again).

A close relationship between UK and EU, which would eliminate the need for most border checks, is, it seems, not on the cards. 2/11
May 10 7 tweets 2 min read
The idea of listening to a speech or reading an interview, and then trying to assess what *you* think of it feels like it has gone out of fashion.

In politics, people are not given the space to think for themselves. 1/7 Instead, both before and after any speech or interview, both sides find 'lines to take'. A parade of commentators and MPs line up and repeat these.

The 'beergate' story is a case in point. 2/7
May 3 7 tweets 2 min read
Johnson's rousing speech to the Ukrainian Parliament contained the following lines on the dangers of autocracy.

I think that they are likely to feature when his own political obituaries come to be written. 1/5 I quote:

'Because when a leader rules by fear, rigs elections, jails critics, gags the media, and listens just to sycophants, when there is no limit on his power: that is when he makes catastrophic mistakes.' 2/5
May 3 5 tweets 2 min read
Just heard Robert Jenrick on #PoliticsLive attempting to defend the Govt's Rwanda policy.

He said (echoing the PM and Priti Patel) that if the policy doesn't work, that would be because of opposition from lawyers and courts, which the Govt would then try to tackle. 1/5 This strategy is all too common - and it beggars belief that, in some quarters at least, it still works.

It was a big part of the Govt's approach to Brexit (see this thread).

It goes like this. 2/5
May 1 11 tweets 2 min read
When you are - as we are - in tumultuous times, it is difficult to work out what is important and what is not.

So my Bank Holiday weekend questions are: what are the main causes of our current woes, and what needs to happen to put things back on a more even keel? 🧵 1/6 The world is an uncertain and precarious place. COVID, the Ukraine war and the climate crisis have greatly affected people's security and confidence for the future. 2/6
Apr 21 7 tweets 2 min read
Some defences of Johnson focus on his role in the Ukraine war - helping Ukraine (or, hyperbolically, galvanising the world's response).

But, there's very little evidence that the UK is as special to Ukraine as many of Johnson's supporters seem to think. 1/7 Ukraine is facing an existential crisis. President Zelenskyy needs help wherever he can find it.

He is showing himself to be a tireless and politically shrewd operator, doing all he can to save his country. 2/7
Apr 14 12 tweets 2 min read
1. Announce ludicrous, eye-catching, unworkable policy.
2. Denounce all criticism from the establishment (or, now, the woke).
3. Blame the predictable failure of the policy on the critics.

It’s looking very familiar. These speeches (I'm thinking about Brexit, levelling up, social care etc) follow a similar format... A short thread. 1/11