A Short History of Brexit (Part 2: notes from Chapter 8 on)


  1. Young (1999), p. 483.
  2. The speech is available at https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/113686.
  3. Young (1999), p. 479.
  4. Grob-Fitzgibbon (2016), pp. 438–9.
  5. The speech itself, as well as a superbly useful range of accompanying documents, is available at https://www.margaretthatcher.org/archive/Bruges.asp.
  6. Young (1999), p. 423.
  7. Grob-Fitzgibbon (2016), p. 451.
  8. Grob-Fitzgibbon (2016), p. 453; https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1990/09/27/the-chequers-affair/.
  9. A reference presumably to the European Commission’s Commissioners.
  10. Cited in Seldon and Collings (2000).
  11. Young (1999), p. 362.
  12. https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/108234.
  13. http://www.britpolitics.co.uk/speeches-sir-geoffrey-howe-resignation.
  14. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/1701003.stm.
  15. Young (1999), p. 433.
  16. I have put the word ‘victory’ in inverted commas to highlight the way in which much of the British political class and media have traditionally portrayed EU negotiations in terms of victory and defeat, rather than compromise and mutual benefit.
  17. The origins of these numbers, which seem arbitrary, are murky. On one account the 3 per cent figure is, like VAT, a gift from France to the world: see https://www.latribune.fr/opinions/tribunes/20101001trib000554871/ a-l-origine-du-deficit-a-3-du-pib-une-invention-100-francaise.html.
  18. Which is why I and 38 other Irish citizens were able to stand for election in the French municipal elections of 2014. And it should be noted that there were also 389 British candidates; see http://www.lefigaro.fr/politique/le-scan/decryptages/2014/03/19/25003-20140319ARTFIG00358-d-o-viennent-les-candidats-etrangers-aux-municipales.php.
  19. See Eichengreen and Wyplosz (1993) for a detailed account of the EMS crisis of 1992–3. Like all the Brookings Papers it is freely available online at https://www.brookings.edu/project/brookings-papers-on-economic-activity/.
  20. Young (1999), p. 369.
  21. Both statements are equally true of the Clinton years.
  22. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37550629. 23. Shipman (2017), p. 6.
  23. Kenny and Pearce (2018). 25. Ibid., pp. 131, 145.
  24. Shipman (2017), p. 7.
  25. Ibid., p. 8.
  26. Delors’s statement is available at https://core.ac.uk/display/76794060; the quotations in the text are taken from pp. 17–18.
  27.   Gstöhl (1994).
  28. Shipman (2017), p. 15.
  29. Available at http://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/21787/0216-euco-conclusions.pdf.
  30. Shipman (2017), pp. 588–9.
  31. See O’Toole (2018).
  32. See for example https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/boris-johnson-european-union-hitler-1.3583108.
  33. Although I was a member of the Centre for European Reform’s Commission on the UK and the Single Market, I declined to sign a resultant letter to the newspapers on what the UK ought to do, as well as similar subsequent efforts, for two reasons. First, I’m not British, and I know from the Irish experience how irritating it is to have foreigners telling you what to do at times like this. And second, it wasn’t at all clear to me that economists’ letters were particularly helpful. On that score at least, I think I was (unfortunately) right.
  34. The statement led to a sharp rise in the British pound and a bigger subsequent collapse, all of which helped certain lucky investors to make a lot of money (Shipman 2017, pp. 432–4).


  1. For a notable recent example of an Anglocentric and cultural explanation of Brexit, see O’Toole (2018).
  2. See the European Commission’s 2016 ‘Vade mecum’ on the Stability and Growth Pact available at https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/file_import/ip021_en_2.pdf, or Protocol 15 of the Treaty on the Functioning    of the European Union (TFEU), available at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/ legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT&from=EN. The Commission does monitor UK public finances and, if it deems it necessary, issues recommendations. But there is not the same legal obligation on the UK to comply as there is on other member states: it only has to ‘endeavour’ to avoid excessive deficits whereas others ‘shall’ avoid them (Article 26.1).
  3. Eichengreen and O’Rourke (2009).
  4. The original bank guarantee in 2008 was as far as we know the fault of the Irish government alone, but by 2010 it had been convinced of the error of its ways. It resolved to ‘burn the bondholders’, or at least those who remained to be burned, but this was vetoed by Jean-Claude Trichet, the President of the European Central Bank, and Tim Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary (Mody 2018, pp. 279–80).
  5. For an authoritative account of the Eurozone crisis written by a former IMF staffer, see Mody (2018). See also Krugman (2013), Stiglitz (2016) and Tooze (2018).
  6. https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2007/01/27/lies-fallacies-and-truths/.
  7. The European integration that has been the focus of this book was a regional, not a global, phenomenon, and even the liberalization efforts of the GATT were for many years an affair mainly of the rich countries. The 1960s saw newly independent countries in many cases turning inwards, erecting trade barriers and trying to develop domestic industry. From the 1980s onwards, however, an ever-increasing number of developing countries turned their backs on this strategy and began liberalizing trade.
  8. O’Rourke and Williamson (1999), pp. 286–7.
  9. Alternatively, median wages were only 6.3 per cent higher in 2016 than in 1973, the first year for which they are available: see the Economic Policy Institute’s State of Working America Data Library available at https://www.epi.org/data/#?subject=wage-avg.
  10. It would be wrong not to cite Thomas Piketty (2013) in this context.
  11. Piketty et al. (2016).
  12. See http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/real-wages-and-living-standards-the-latest-uk-evidence/.
  13. Notably Autor et al. (2013).
  14. Brouard and Tiberj (2006).
  15. Piris (2010) argues that the Lisbon treaty marked a clear defeat for federalists.
  16. Sinnott et al. (2009). The report is available at http://www.joselkink.net/research.php.
  17. Autor et al. (2016).
  18. Ibid.
  19. Colantone and Stanig (2018), p. 201.
  20. Becker et al. (2017).
  21. Ibid.
  22. Fetzer (2018).
  23. https://dominiccummings.com/2017/01/09/on-the-referendum-21-branching-histories-of-the-2016-referendum-and-the-frogs-before-the-storm-2/.
  24. That last point is mine, not Cummings’s or Shipman’s. Shipman entertains seriously the possibility that Cameron could have obtained a more serious reduction of the rights of European citizens. I regard that as fanciful in the extreme.
  25. The Gisela in question being Gisela Stuart, a German-born Labour Party politician and leading Brexiteer.
  26. Shipman (2017), p. 9.


  1. See https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/25/that-didnt-go-to-plan-cameron-spin-doctor-brexit-vote-craig-oliver and https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/16/cameron-wouldnt-last-30-seconds-if-he-lost-eu-vote-says-ken-clarke.
  2. The speech is available at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-s-speech-to-the-conservative-party-conference-in-full-a6681901.html.
  3. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/a-borderless-eu-harms-everyone-but-the-gangs-that-sell-false-dreams-nrqqz3hdzbb.
  4. Shipman (2017), p. 21.
  5. Victoire de la liberté! Comme je le demande depuis des années, il faut maintenant le même référendum en France et dans les pays de l’UE.’
  6. https://franceintheus.org/spip.php?article7630#4.
  7. A brief introduction to this unpleasant subject can be found in http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2016/07/14/boris-johnson-le-boulet-diplomatique_1466219.
  8. Dans la campagne, il a beaucoup menti aux Britanniques.’
  9. To Davis’s credit he keeps such tweets available online: https://twitter.com/DavidDavisMP/status/735770073822961664.
  10. I am being a little bit pedantic here. In common parlance people talk of the UK wanting to leave the customs union, but by definition it has to do so once it leaves the EU. The question then becomes whether or not it wants to join a new one.
  11. ‘Leaders must make the case for globalization’, Financial Times, 17 July 2016.
  12. See https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/british-anti-imigrant-sentiment-by-kevin-hjortshoj-o-rourke-2016-07.
  13. Timothy (2012). In fairness, it is Chamberlain’s radicalism that appealed to Timothy, not his protectionism or imperialism; but on the other hand, Timothy also notes (p. 56) that among the radical measures which Chamberlain advocated was the control of immigration.
  14. https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/conservative-party/news/79517/read-full-theresa-mays-conservative.
  15. According to Tim Shipman (2018) the decisions to leave the jurisdiction of the ECJ, and the EU Single Market and customs union, were taken  by May and Timothy: he comments (p. 12) that ‘it is extraordinary that these, the foundational decisions of Britain’s withdrawal strategy, which would shape the next two years of negotiations, were taken, in essence, by two people. The cabinet certainly had no chance to debate them.’ The implications of the speech were immediately understood in EU capitals but not, apparently, by everyone in the UK: ‘Nick Timothy had defined British policy on Brexit. Now Therea may had to guide her cabinet to the same place without admitting the policy was already set in stone’ (p. 19).
  16. The speech is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/ the-governments-negotiating-objectives-for-exiting-the-eu-pm-speech.
  17. The citations in the text are taken from a very helpful briefing prepared by the European Parliament, available at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2017/599267/EPRS_BRI(2017)599267_EN.pdf; for a list of financial services covered by passporting, see https://www.ceps.eu/system/files/IEForum52016_3.pdf.
  18. The speech is reproduced at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chancellors-hsbc-speech-financial-services.
  19. Alex Barker and Peter Campbell, ‘Honda faces the real cost of Brexit in a former Spitfire plant’, 26 June 2018, available at https://www.ft.com/content/8f46b0d4-77b6-11e8-8e67-1e1a0846c475.
  20. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/world/europe/uk-brexit-european-union.html.
  21. The letter is available at http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/XT-20001-2017-INIT/en/pdf.
  22. The statement is available on the European Council’s fabulously helpful website, https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/eu-uk-after-referendum/.
  23. http://jackofkent.com/2016/06/why-the-article-50-notification-is-important/.
  24. Cecilia Malmström broke the bad news in an interview on Newsnight: see https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36678222.
  25. Connelly (2018), p. 34.
  26. https://www.welt.de/english-news/article161182946/Philip-Hammond-issues-threat-to-EU-partners.html. To be fair, he said that it might do this if it were shut out of European markets after Brexit.
  27. An exception is Chris Giles of the Financial Times: see for example https://www.ft.com/content/7ff44a0c-59e2-11e8-b8b2-d6ceb45fa9d0.
  28. First, the name of the state is not ‘southern Ireland’, and second the frontier is not internal to the United Kingdom.
  29. The anecdote about the email is contained in Connelly (2018), p. 56, while Davis’s remark about the frontier can be found here: https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-36819182?
  30. Connelly (2018), p. 53.
  31. The Guiers was set as the frontier between the Dauphiné and Savoie under the terms of the 1355 Treaty of Paris. Unfortunately, that treaty did not specify whether the Guiers in question was the Vif or the Mort, a question which was only clarified in 1760 under the terms of the Treaty of Turin. Until that time the region between the two Guiers was disputed, much to the benefit of local smugglers.
  32. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40949424.
  33. According to the British government there were seventeen of these approved crossings in 1972: see its August 2017 position paper on ‘Northern Ireland and Ireland’, available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/638135/6.3703_DEXEU_Northern_Ireland_and_Ireland_INTERACTIVE.pdf.
  34. https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n07/susan-mckay/diary.
  35. The quotation is taken from the wonderful Irish Borderlands project website, available at http://www.irishborderlands.com/index.html.
  36. Connelly (2018), p. 252.
  37. See https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/police-chief-hard-border-threatens-to-blow-holes-in-our-fragile-peace-29wzcklq9.
  38. Connelly (2018), chs 4, 9 and 14 provides an excellent account of the negotiations, upon which I draw in the following paragraphs.
  39. My article in the Irish Times on the subject is available at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/no-special-deal-possible-to-stop-the-return-of-border-controls-1.2981088.
  40. As I pointed out here at the time: http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2016/10/04/what-should-ireland-be-looking-for/.
  41. Like other documents referred to subsequently, they are available on the Council’s website (see note 21 above).
  42. As pointed out by Donald Tusk in the post-summit press conference: see http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/04/29/tusk-remarks-special-european-council-art50/.
  43. Connelly (2018), p. 298.


  1. https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/793561/general-election-2017-theresa-may-strengthen-britain-negotiating-hand-brexit-eu.
  2. Position paper on ‘Essential Principles on Citizens’ Rights’, 12 June 2017, available at https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/essential-principles-citizens-rights_en_3.pdf.
  3. ‘The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union: safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU’, 26 June 2017, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safeguarding-the-position-of-eu-citizens-in-the-uk-and-uk-nationals-in-the-eu.
  4. This fear proved unfounded.
  5. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2004:158:0077:0123:EN:PDF.
  6. The speech is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pms-florence-speech-a-new-era-of-cooperation-and-partnership-between-the-uk-and-the-eu.
  7. ‘Joint technical note on citizens’ rights’, 8 December 2017, available at https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/joint-technical-note-expressing-detailed-consensus-uk-and-eu-positions-respect-citizens-rights_fr. It is important to note that although it proved relatively easy to reach an agreement on the issue of citizens’ rights, this does not mean that the citizens concerned will conserve all of their existing rights under the agreement.
  8. Communication from the Commission to the European Council (Article 50), 8 December 2017, available at https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/1_en_act_communication.pdf.
  9. ‘Heading into troubled waters’, Financial Times, 13 October 2017, available at https://www.ft.com/content/c3f464ac-b006-11e7-beba-5521c713abf4.
  10. ‘“Now they have to pay”: Juncker says UK stance on Brexit bill untenable’, Guardian, 13 October 2017, available at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/13/brexit-wrangle-over-citizens-rights-is-nonsense-says-juncker
  11. ‘UK bows to EU demands with breakthrough offer on Brexit bill’, Financial Times, 29 November 2017, available at https://www.ft.com/content/cabf22e2-d462-11e7-8c9a-d9c0a5c8d5c9.
  12. This was certainly how I saw it in July 2017: see http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2017/07/30/using-ireland/. And Tony Connelly (2018, p. 74) reports that European Commission officials feared precisely the same thing.
  13. ‘Business leaders feel the heat during Chevening Brexit talks’, Financial Times, 7 July 2017, available at https://www.ft.com/content/7def4e2a-6314-11e7-91a7-502f7ee26895.
  14. ‘Conservative–DUP agreement due “next week”’, 15 June, 2017, available at https://news.sky.com/story/conservative-dup-agreement-due-next-week-10916703.
  15. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-41232991.
  16. Shipman (2018), p. 524.
  17. https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-faces-e2-billion-eu-payment-for-china-fraud-trade.
  18. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-customs-arrangements-a-future-partnership-paper.
  19. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/coveney-ireland-will-not-be-used-as-pawn-in-eu-uk-talks-1.3188523. The UK’s Northern Ireland position paper is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/northern-ireland-and-ireland-a-position-paper.
  20. https://www.dw.com/en/eu-worries-that-uk-wants-to-use-ireland-as-customs-test-case/a-40412996.
  21. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/guiding-principles- dialogue-ireland-northern-ireland_en.
  22. See https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/ireland-warns-theresa-may-increased-40-billion-brexit-deal-cant-buy-you-trade-talks-a3697201.html.
  23. Connelly (2018), p. 359.
  24. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/17/irish-pm-brexit-backing-politicians-did-not-think-things-through.
  25. On 8 November 2017 a working paper circulated by Commission officials contained the following bullet point: ‘It consequently seems essential for the UK to commit to ensuring that a hard border on the island or Ireland is avoided, including by ensuring no emergence of regulatory divergence from those rules of the internal market and the Customs Union which are (or  may be in the future) necessary for meaningful North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement.’ According to both Tony Connelly and Tim Shipman this was the backstop’s first appearance in written form: Connelly’s account of how it was born is available at https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2018/1019/1005373-backstop-tony-connelly/. Apparently Ollie Robbins was not pleased (Shipman 2018, p. 524).
  26. https://www.dfa.ie/news-and-media/speeches/speeches-archive/2017/november/eurofound-foundation-forum-2017/.
  27. Connelly (2018), ch. 17.
  28. The mapping exercise was deemed to be too sensitive to publish while the negotiations were ongoing. The British government published the list of areas where there was ongoing North-South cooperation in December 2018, once the negotiations had concluded. It is available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/762820/Technical_note-North-South_cooperation_mapping_exercise__2.pdf.
  29. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/12/01/remarks-by-president-donald-tusk-after-his-meeting-with-taoiseach-leo-varadkar/.
  30. The Joint Report is available at https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/joint_report.pdf.
  31. A potential complicating factor was that the Northern Ireland Executive had been dissolved in January 2017 following a scandal involving renewable heat incentives. As of December 2018 there was still no Executive in Northern Ireland.
  32. http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2017/12/09/who-is-fudging-answer-not-the-eu/.
  33. Both documents are available on the European Council’s website, https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/eu-uk-after-referendum/.
  34. In this manner they implicitly recognized that the UK had not been a vassal state when it was an EU member.
  35. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42298971.
  36. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2017-0490+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN.
  37. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/draft-agreement-withdrawal-united-kingdom-great-britain-and-northern-ireland-european-union-and-european-atomic-energy-community-0_en.
  38. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43224785.
  39. https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/introduction-importing-animals-and-animal-products.
  40. http://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/33458/23-euco-art50-guidelines.pdf.
  41. See the superb article by Tony Connelly available at https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2018/1207/1015924-brexit-backstop-uk/.
  42. The proposal is available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/714656/Technical_note_temporary_customs_arrangement.pdf.
  43. And VAT area, I should have added: http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2017/10/07/what-if-it-was-the-europeans-picking-the-cherries/. See also https://www.cer.eu/node/6563/, and https://www.ft.com/content/5f6fedcc-db3e-11e7-a039-c64b1c09b482.
  44. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/723460/CHEQUERS_STATEMENT_-_FINAL.PDF. Mind you, the statement doesn’t tell us what form of backstop the government had in mind.
  45. In a nod to those opposed to following EU regulations, the statement said that the UK would do so voluntarily, realizing that if it chose not to do so ‘this would have consequences’. In other words there was no legal obligation on it to do so!
  46. Tony Connelly’s analysis of the events is outstanding: see https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2018/0721/980069-brexit-tony-connelly/.
  47. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/02/michel-barnier-strongly-opposes-may-brexit-trade-proposals.
  48. The evidence of both Weyand and Barnier is available at https://t.co/65yAG3VKmt.
  49. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6146853/BORIS-JOHNSON-JEREMY-HUNT-debate-Chequers-deal.html.
  50. The article is available at https://www.welt.de/debatte/kommentare/article181579426/Theresa-May-May-warns-EU-not-to-treat-UK-unfairly-in- Brexit-talks.html.
  51. The report in question is available at http://uk.businessinsider.com/liam-fox-trade-deal-scrap-european-union-food-standards-after-brexit-2018-9. Good analyses of the Salzburg summit can be found inter alia at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/20/macron-puts-the-boot-in-after-mays-brexit-breakfast-blunder, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/21/world/europe/eu-theresa-may-brexit-salzburg.html, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-salzburg/may-has-only-self-to-blame-for-salzburg-sandbagging-europeans-say-idUSKCN1M129D, and https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2018/0921/995292-salzburg-chronic-misreading/.
  52. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/09/20/remarks-by-president-donald-tusk-after-the-salzburg-informal-summit/.
  53. https://news.sky.com/story/pm-attacks-disrespectful-eu-the-angriest-quotes-from-her-brexit-speech-11504324.
  54. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/09/21/statement-by-president-donald-tusk-on-the-brexit-negotiations/.
  55. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/21/humiliation-and-disaster-how-uk-press-covered-theresa-may-salzburg-ordeal; https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1021145/brexit-news-dup-leader-arlene-foster-theresa-may-eu-chequers-salzburg-summit. Hunt’s speech is available at https://www.conservativehome.com/parliament/2018/09/never-mistake-british-politeness-for-british-weakness-hunts-conference-speech-full-text.html.
  56. See however footnote 68 and the associated discussion in the text.
  57. Future historians with access to more information may end up disputing the use of the definite pronoun here, but from the vantage point of 2018 it seems merited. According to a May adviser speaking in 2016, ‘The vote for Brexit was about controlling immigration. Everything else flows from there’ (Shipman (2018, p. 14). And it also seems that Mrs May intervened personally to ensure that the words ‘ending of free movement of people’ be added to the first page of the Political Declaration agreed by both sides in November 2018: see https://www.buzzfeed.com/albertonardelli/theresa-may-ending-free-movement-first-page-brexit.
  58. For an early discussion of this option, see for example https://www.ft.com/content/350519e2-8a91-11e8-b18d-0181731a0340.
  59. See https://www.lemonde.fr/referendum-sur-le-brexit/article/2018/10/13/brexit-dernier-tunnel-de-negociations-avant-un-accord-ou-pas_5368982_4872498.html, and https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/14/how-the-draft-brexit-agreement-emerged-from-the-tunnel.
  60. The statement is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-on-brexit-15-october-2018. See also, inter alia, https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/brexit-deal-within-theresa-may-s-grasp-but-party-backing-elusive-1.3664561.
  61. Ibid.
  62. See https://twitter.com/tconnellyRTE/status/1062373393046167552. For an account of how the deal came about, see https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2018/1117/1011485-brexit/.
  63. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/may-accused-of-betrayal-as-she-unveils-brexit-deal-ks9frvbwz; Emmanuel Macron later offered similar reassurances to French fishermen (see https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/25/eu-leaders-back-theresa-mays-brexit-deal-in-brussels).
  64. The Withdrawal Agreement is available at https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/37099/draft_withdrawal_agreement_incl_art132.pdf. A summary of the backstop is available at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-18-6423_en.htm.
  65. The code is set out here: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32013R0952.
  66. The Directive is available at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ TXT/?uri=celex%3A32009L0048.
  67. See https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2018/1207/1015924-brexit-backstop-uk/.
  68. However, as Sam Lowe of the Centre for European Reform pointed out. ‘Being in such a customs union would place no constraints on the UK’s ability to negotiate in the areas of services, intellectual property, public procurement, data and regulatory barriers to trade in goods’. See https://www.cer.eu/publications/archive/bulletin-article/2018/effective-uk-trade-policy-and-customs-union-are.
  69. https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2018/1010/1002349-brexit-border/.
  70. See for example https://www.rte.ie/news/analysis-and-comment/2018/1123/1012997-brexit-and-dup/.
  71. The British government had in fact drawn up plans for a termination clause to be inserted into the Withdrawal Agreement, that would have allowed the UK to unilaterally exit the backstop even in the absence of a mutually agreed-upon alternative for achieving that objective. This had not been made a formal demand, since the Irish government had made it clear that such an approach would never fly. See Times Brexit Briefing, November 29, 2018; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/my-articles/irish-leader-lays-down-red-lines-on-brexit-border-deal-5c89bqrg2.
  72. The resignation letter is available, inter alia, at https://www.metro.news/seven-members-of-government-who-said-they-could-not-support-the-pms-brexit-deal/1312216/. It emerged later that Raab had also been unhappy about the backstop being used as the basis for the future relationship. See https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/dominic-raab-exclusive-brexit-interview-i-was-hoodwinked-x02m350kx. The British Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, later confirmed that the backstop had indeed been solidly constructed by the EU negotiators: his advice to the UK government is available at https://static.rasset.ie/documents/news/2018/12/05-december-eu-exit-attorney-general-s-legal-advice-to-cabinet-on-the-withdrawal-agreement-and-the-protocol-on-ireland-northern-ireland.pdf.
  73. See https://medium.com/@JoJohnsonUK/why-i-cannot-support-the-governments-proposed-brexit-deal-3d289f95f2bc.
  74. The proposal was primarily associated with the Conservative MP Nick Boles, and the case for it can be found at http://betterbrexit.org.uk.
  75. The judgement is available at http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=208636&pageIndex=0&doclang=en&mode=req%20&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=1087903.
  76. Mrs May’s statement is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pms-statement-on-exiting-the-european-union-10-december-2018.
  77. See https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2018/1214/1017288-tony-connelly-brexit/, on which much of what follows draws.
  78. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-14/eu-leaders-just-aren-t-sure-they-can-trust-theresa-may-anymore.
  79. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/uk/may-s-promise-to-dup-could-make-brexit-deal-impossible-1.3729389.
  80. https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2018/1212/1016666-brexit-uk/.
  81. EU suspicion of British intentions emerges strongly from the afore- mentioned report by Tony Connelly available at https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2018/1214/1017288-tony-connelly-brexit/.
  82. https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/theresa-mays-post-brexit-trade-deal-suggestion-dismissed-by-taoiseach-892179.html.
  83. The European Council’s conclusions on Brexit are available at https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2018/12/13/european-council-art-50-conclusions-13-december-2018/.
  84. Taking the draft conclusions of the summit as the basis of the outcome, before these had been discussed either by COREPER or at the summit itself, and spinning accordingly, was an unforced error on the part of the British government, heightening the impression back in the UK that the summit had been a ‘failure’.


  1. The Irish have long been aware that insisting on a backstop might lead to a no deal Brexit. For an argument as to why, from an Irish point of view, it might nevertheless be rational to insist on the backstop, see http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2017/09/24/is-no-deal-better-than-a-bad-deal-irish-edition/.