Will the result of UK election affect Brexit talks?

Read few comments.

Mark Shephard, Senior Lecturer, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde

Either: a) coalition with the DUP (NI) on this issue could see a softening of Brexit (DUP do not want a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland); or b) a grand coalition/national government could see a softening of Brexit preferences too. Or c) love breaks down and either a motion of no confidence in the government or a 2/3 vote to call an election is successful and we have another election to find out what the country wants…

Simon UsherwoodAssociate Dean, Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics, University of Surrey

The only real impact is on timing: substantive talks should be starting on 19 June, but there might not be  government to negotiate. However, policy right now does not look like it will change on the British side. The EU will just be happy to get moving on this, so talk of trying to exploit British confusion/weakness is probably misguided.

Kristian SteinnesProfessor, Department of Historical Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The result of the election will create uncertainty and less predictability. First, it is not certain, but likely that the Tories will cling on to power. Yet it is not a done deal that May will be able to continue as PM. Second, in the negotiations with the EU the British government will have to pass legislation, and carry out debates, in the House of Commons, and with no majority that will be harder. It will even be difficult to agree internally in the Tory camp. Also, in a hung parliament, the government will have to rely on another party/ies, which makes it even harder to agree. Seen from a British point of view, their overall position might have weakened in relative terms. As for the EU, it might be somewhat easier to find compromises with the British, which might be better for the union as such. If the political situation in Britain requires compromises internally, the negotiating position might be less harsh seen from the EU. Taken together, this might be good for Europe – not least if the end result is a somewhat softer Brexit?

Robin Pettitt, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Kingston University

I can only imagine the impact will be huge. The negotiations are supposed to start in 10 days time, and the process of creating a new UK government will take a while. It is not at all unlikely that Brexit negotiations will have to be postponed.

In addition, whichever kind of government is created it will not have a mandate for any particular version of Brexit. May wanted a mandate for her version of ‘hard’ Brexit. That was emphatically rejected by the voters. However, the result does not appear to be a slid endorsement of an alternative. In short: interesting times!

Frank Häge, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick

Any new Conservative government, which relies on the support of other parties, will have to adopt a more moderate Brexit position (because all other parties are more sceptical of a hard Brexit). So the outcome of Brexit negotiations will, in terms of the future relationship between the UK and the EU, probably be (somewhat) closer to the current situation. As such, the position of the UK going into negotiations is not necessarily weaker, as Conservatives claim, it’s just different.

In fact, domestic constraints, like a coalition partner, are often a bargaining chip at the international level. If you’re domestically constraint, you can point to that constraint in negotiations to explain why you cannot make more far-reaching concessions. So a coalition government of some sort will probably lead to a more moderate starting position, but might actually be better able to defend that position during the negotiation process.

At the same time, a coalition government might be less able to formulate clear-cut negotiation positions in the first place. Any ambiguity or uncertainty is a risk factor in negotiations that might lead to their unintentional break-down. So all in all, if the negotiations conclude successfully, the outcome is probably a less harsh Brexit, but the risk of inadvertent failure might be higher under a coalition government as well.

Jost-Henrik Morgenstern-Pomorski, Lecturer, European Studies, Department of Politics, Maastricht University

The absence of a stable government will likely postpone the beginning of formal negotiations with the EU. Even with the current government in place, the UK found it hard to develop realistic positions. Now this will be even harder. There have already been calls for a ‘pause’ in the article 50 process, which I find unlikely. The EU27 might be willing to reward a UK government that moves towards ‘soft Brexit’, i.e. single market and customs union membership. But I doubt they have any interest in prolonging the misery of negotiating towards ‘hard Brexit’. European governments will be deeply worried and I think even the most collaborative will make serious contingency plans for the possibility that the UK leaves the EU without arrangements now.

Bill Jones, Senior Honorary Research Fellow,  Liverpool Hope University

May claimed she needed a bigger majority to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations but has been left empty handed instead. You could interpret the result of the election as a rejection of ‘Hard Brexit’ (ie complete withdrawal) and it may lead to a ‘softer’ version (closer to present position). But there is much confusion right now as no party has a majority and May will have to rely on Ulster based DUP to have a chance of winning votes in Commons.

Ivor Gaber, Professor of Journalism, University of Sussex

That’s the big I don’t know. All depends on what happens when in Westminster over next week or two. May says she’s not resigning but she’s seriously weakened in party, country and EU. Overall this very bad for UK negotiating position and holds out very feint prospect of second referendum on terms of deal. But most likely outcome in U.K. is second election later this year.

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