The Financial Times reported Monday morning that the United Kingdom government is planning to break its initial withdrawal agreement with the European Union, by introducing new legislation that would undermine parts of the agreement that affect Northern Ireland.
This has had immediate consequences, leading the British pound to fall sharply, and U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) to warn that there may be no trade deal between the U.K. and the United States if the U.K. goes ahead with its plan. Yet the long-term consequences may be more profound, making it harder for Britain and the European Union to figure out a new relationship.… Seguir leyendo »
On Saturday, the Republic of Ireland held a general election. Sinn Fein won more votes than any other party, with 24.5 percent of the “first preference” vote, although another party, Fianna Fail, won one more seat. This is an enormous change in Irish politics.
While the Republic of Ireland is separate from Northern Ireland, many people outside of Ireland and the United Kingdom know Sinn Fein primarily as the party historically connected to the Irish Republican Army (IRA), a terrorist organization that put down its weapons as part of the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland. However, it is the only significant party that is organized in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (which is unsurprising, since its main political ambition is to reunify Ireland).… Seguir leyendo »
The Irish political system may be about to undergo a major upheaval. Sinn Fein, a party that has traditionally been associated with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), has been doing increasingly well in the polls. Now, a new Irish Times poll finds that it is leading, with 25 percent of likely voters saying that they intend to vote for Sinn Fein. Fianna Fail is in second place with 23 percent, while Fine Gael, which is in government with the support of some independents (and the outside support of Fianna Fail, its historical rival) is third at 20 percent. This poll is likely to shock the Irish political system.… Seguir leyendo »
Britain’s election results seem to point in two very different directions. The headline result is that Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has won a smashing victory against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, clearing the way for Britain’s exit from the European Union. This would seem like good news for British nationalists, who have treated the E.U. as an enemy for decades.
Yet this victory may weaken the political fabric of the United Kingdom. Scottish nationalists did extraordinarily well, too, while for the first time, more nationalist members of Parliament (who want a united Ireland) have been elected in Northern Ireland than unionist MPs (who want the union with Great Britain to continue).… Seguir leyendo »
In an extraordinary series of tweets, President Trump raised tariffs on China, and “hereby ordered” American companies to start “looking for an alternative to China” and perhaps bring their companies home to the U.S. He announced, “We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them.” Trump’s statements led to a big fall in the stock market.
Like many previous Trump statements, the immediate policy implications are unclear. Trump may move to make it far more difficult for U.S. companies to do business with China by invoking emergency powers, but he also might abandon the threat if it seems too politically costly, or if he believes he can get trade concessions from China.… Seguir leyendo »
The European Commission has just fined Google nearly $1.7 billion for abusing its dominance of search ads to make life difficult for its competitors. This is the third massive fine in the past two years. In June 2017, the commission fined Google about $2.7 billion. In summer 2018, it imposed a fine of more than $4.8 billion for other forms of anti-competitive behavior. This marks a new willingness of European regulators to intervene against big tech companies — and some U.S. politicians want to follow in Europe’s footsteps.
Antitrust is different in Europe
The European Union has a very different antitrust system from the United States.… Seguir leyendo »
Details are still emerging about the attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which at least 49 people were killed at two mosques. However, it appears that one person with advance knowledge of the planned attack is an active participant in a radicalized online right-wing media culture. Before the massacre, a man posted a long manifesto, police said, which was full of inside references to online memes and ideas that are commonly circulated among the radical right. An individual announced his intention to carry out an attack on the online messaging board 8chan, linking to the manifesto, before the massacre occurred. Video that appeared to be one of the shootings was live-streamed, clearly in the hope that it would go viral on social media.… Seguir leyendo »
No one was surprised that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal was rejected Tuesday by the House of Commons. What was surprising was that the vote was 432 to 202. Normally, such a humiliating defeat would lead to the resignation of the prime minister. That is highly unlikely to happen: May will continue as prime minister, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s motion of no confidence is unlikely to succeed. However, it’s hard to see an alternative deal that would pass muster with both the House of Commons and the European Union.
There’s no real room for compromise and negotiation
Scholars of international relations tend to assume that negotiations only happen where there is a plausible agreement that all parties can live with.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the past few days, Britain has entered into a major political crisis. Negotiators for the Conservative Party government made a deal with European Union negotiators over the Brexit process. However, the deal was unacceptable to the Democratic Unionist Party, which the government relies on for support, as well as to the Labour Party and many members of the Conservative Party. Now rebel Conservatives have gathered the necessary votes to challenge the leadership of Prime Minister Theresa May. How did this happen, and what happens next?
The U.K.-E.U. exit deal was highly controversial
The key challenge that both May and the European Union face is that there is no obvious deal acceptable to both Britain and the E.U.… Seguir leyendo »
On Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May will deliver a speech at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. Its contents have been widely leaked. May is set to denounce the “backstop” her government negotiated with the European Union as part of the Brexit agreement. She will say that the proposal would breach the Belfast Agreement that secured peace in Northern Ireland and leave the people of Northern Ireland without any representation in trade negotiations. She will say that “the economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept and I believe no British prime minister could ever accept.… Seguir leyendo »
The European Commission, which administers antitrust policy in the European Union, has just hit Google with a record fine of 4.34 billion euros ($5 billion U.S.). This fine is intended to punish Google for the way in which it has structured the market for its operating system. Here’s what you need to know.
The massive fine is for “tying” the operating system to specific applications.
Android is the operating system used by most smartphones that aren’t manufactured by Apple. It is, in principle, an “open source” operating system, which allows phone manufacturers to modify it in various ways. For example, Samsung’s popular Galaxy phones run Android but use a “skin” and various Samsung-branded applications to differentiate it from competitors’ products.… Seguir leyendo »
An Irish Times exit poll says Ireland has voted to repeal the constitutional provision banning abortion with a crushing majority. The poll says that 68 percent voted yes and 32 percent voted against. People on both sides had expected a yes vote over the past couple of days; few had expected that the margin would be so decisive. Of course, the exit poll may be wrong, but it is hard to imagine that it could be wrong enough to call the final result into question.
It’s not just the big cities that voted yes
Ireland, like the United States, has very different patterns of voting in urban areas and in the countryside.… Seguir leyendo »
The dead babies scandal in Ireland has taken a new turn, as investigators have confirmed that significant quantities of human remains in two underground structures, one a decommissioned septic tank. A sampling of the remains suggested that they were from human infants, ranging from foetuses at approximately 35 weeks of development to children 3 years old. These remains seem to date from the 1925 to 1961 period when a Catholic order of nuns, the Bon Secour sisters, ran a home for unmarried mothers on the premises.
Early reports suggested a mass grave for 800 babies
When this scandal first broke in 2014, much reportage, including two stories published by The Washington Post claimed that the bodies of 800 babies had been discovered in a disused septic tank.… Seguir leyendo »
The chief political aide of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party and candidate for the French presidential election, has just been put under investigation by French magistrates. If the charges are correct, the National Front leader has been cheating on European Parliament expenses to pay her bodyguard and her chief political aide for jobs they didn’t do.
This may sound strange. The National Front, like other European far-right parties, is virulently hostile to the European Union — so why is it able to use European Union resources to build itself up? Yet as we discuss in a new research article for the Review of International Political Economy, the National Front is far from unique.… Seguir leyendo »