UK Government approach to the withdrawal from the European Union under Johnson administration

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Author (Corporate)
Publication Date July 2019-
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Summary:

Feature bringing together reports and analyses on the approach adopted by the government led by Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom when it came to the country's withdrawal from the European Union (also known as Brexit).

Further information:

Boris Johnson became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 24 July 2019, following a leadership contest within the UK Conservative Party. As a result of the campaign led by Mr Johnson as a leadership candidate, the cabinet adopted as its policy to leave the European Union (EU) by 31 October 2019, in whichever conditions. The Prime Minister stated the intention to engage in negotiations with the EU for an alternative to the so-called 'backstop' mechanism designed under the previous cabinet to guarantee frictionless trade in the island of Ireland, and included in an Withdrawal Agreement, which faced opposition in Parliament for months. Even so, many analysts warned against the increasing inevitability of a scenario in which the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU without an agreement (also known as no-deal scenario).

Throughout August, the Government announced the UK was no longer going to attend non-essential EU-level meetings to focus on Brexit preparations in the country. The country's home secretary also warned that freedom of movement would end the next day following withdrawal in case of a no-deal scenario, sparking criticism and some panic among EU citizens living in the United Kingdom.

In a controversial decision, it was announced on 28 August that the Government was seeking the prorogation (or suspension) of the Parliament in September and October 2019. The proposal was quickly approved by the Queen. The move was widely interpreted as a way to make it harder for Parliament - known to feature a majority against a no-deal scenario - to act against the cabinet's policy regarding Brexit, as also sparked a number of protests on the streets across the country.

On 3 September, members of Parliament (MPs) voted to take control of House of Commons business - a number of Conservative MPs backed the proposal and were thrown out of the party as a result. The move would allow MPs to put forward a bill aimed at forcing Mr Johnson to ask to delay the withdrawal from the EU until at least 31 January 2020 in order to avoid a no-deal exit. The government also lost its working majority in Parliament, following a defection from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Democrats. On the following day, the Parliament approved the bill ordering the Prime Minister to request a further extension beyond 31 October in case of a no-deal scenario. The Government also put forward a proposal for a general election to be held before the end of October, which was rejected by the House of Commons over fears it could lead to a no-deal scenario.

On 16 September, Mr Johnson met the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker for the first time to take stock of the technical talks between the EU and the UK and to discuss the next steps. Sources from both sides had contradicting views on the state of negotiations towards alternatives to the already agreed Withdrawal Agreement. Following a meeting with Luxembourg's Prime Minister on that same day, Mr Johnson refused to attend a joint press conference due to noisy protests held outside the venue of the meeting.

Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
Euro|topics, July 2019: Hardline Brexiteers take over in London https://www.eurotopics.net/en/224021/
Institute for Government: Blog, 26/07/2019: The EU won’t alter the Brexit reality for Boris Johnson https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/eu-wont-alter-brexit-reality-boris-johnson
Chatham House: Expert Comment, 26/07/2019: Boris Johnson’s Plan Just Might Work https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/boris-johnson-s-plan-just-might-work
Euro|topics, July 2019: Johnson in Downing Street: curse or blessing? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/223860/
The Conversation, 31/07/2019: Dominic Cummings: Boris Johnson’s new adviser will relish his controversial status https://theconversation.com/dominic-cummings-boris-johnsons-new-adviser-will-relish-his-controversial-status-121267
Euro|topics, July 2019: How will Brexit affect the economy? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/224339/
The Economist, 08/08/2019: Can Parliament stop no-deal? https://www.economist.com/britain/2019/08/08/can-parliament-stop-no-deal
The Conversation, 09/08/2019: Could Boris Johnson really force through a no-deal Brexit in the middle of an election? A constitutional lawyer weighs in https://theconversation.com/could-boris-johnson-really-force-through-a-no-deal-brexit-in-the-middle-of-an-election-a-constitutional-lawyer-weighs-in-121658
Foreign Policy, 09/08/2019: Don’t Blame Boris for the Brexit Backstop Impasse https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/09/dont-blame-boris-for-the-brexit-backstop-impasse-ireland-leo-varadkar-dup-northern-ireland-eu-customs/
Euro|topics, August 2019: Is a no-deal Brexit unavoidable? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/224805/
Institute for Government: Blog, 12/08/2019: Boris Johnson has chucked the Chequers compromise https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/boris-johnson-has-chucked-chequers-compromise
Foreign Policy, 12/08/2019: Boris Johnson Doesn’t Want a No-Deal Brexit. He Wants to Win an Election https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/12/boris-johnson-doesnt-want-no-deal-brexit-he-wants-to-win-an-election-jeremy-corbyn-brexit-election-cummings/
Euro|topics, August 2019: No-deal Brexit: now comes the fear https://www.eurotopics.net/en/225372/
The Economist, 15/08/2019: Eurocrats know Boris Johnson well, making no-deal Brexit more likely https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/08/15/eurocrats-know-boris-johnson-well-making-no-deal-brexit-more-likely
The Economist, 15/08/2019: The chilling economic effects of Brexit uncertainty are intensifying https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/08/15/the-chilling-economic-effects-of-brexit-uncertainty-are-intensifying
Foreign Policy, 15/08/2019: Boris Johnson Needs a Second Referendum to Stay in Power https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/15/boris-johnson-needs-a-second-referendum-to-stay-in-power-uk-brexit-no-deal-peoples-vote/
Institute for Government: Blog, 19/08/2019: The government’s new no-deal Brexit immigration plan looks undeliverable https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/governments-new-no-deal-brexit-immigration-plan-looks-undeliverable
Institute for Government: Blog, 20/08/2019: Missing EU meetings could damage the UK’s post-Brexit interests https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/pulling-out-eu-meetings-could-damage-uks-post-brexit-interest
Euro|topics, August 2019: Brexit: should the EU stick to the backstop? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/225540/
The Conversation, 22/08/2019: Boris Johnson’s dramatic immigration u-turn leaves 2.5m uncertain of their future https://theconversation.com/boris-johnsons-dramatic-immigration-u-turn-leaves-2-5m-uncertain-of-their-future-122166
The Conversation, 22/08/2019: Boris Johnson must change his negotiating tactics to avoid no-deal Brexit – EU treaty-making experts https://theconversation.com/boris-johnson-must-change-his-negotiating-tactics-to-avoid-no-deal-brexit-eu-treaty-making-experts-122243
Institute for Government: Blog, 23/08/2019: Boris Johnson’s European tour has not altered the reality of Brexit https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/boris-johnsons-european-tour-has-not-altered-reality-brexit
Euro|topics, August 2019: The quest for a Brexit breakthrough https://www.eurotopics.net/en/225627/
Institute for Government: Blog, 28/08/2019: Boris Johnson’s prorogation plans may convince his Brexit opponents to act now https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/boris-johnsons-prorogation-plans-may-convince-brexit-opponents
Foreign Policy, 28/08/2019: King Johnson vs. Parliament https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/28/king-johnson-vs-parliament-prorogue-brexit-boris/
The Conversation, 28/08/2019: Boris Johnson suspends parliament: what does it mean for Brexit and why are MPs so angry? https://theconversation.com/boris-johnson-suspends-parliament-what-does-it-mean-for-brexit-and-why-are-mps-so-angry-122574
Politico, 28/08/2019: Boris Johnson vs. parliament https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-vs-parliament/
The Conversation, 29/08/2019: Why the queen said yes to Boris Johnson’s request to suspend Parliament https://theconversation.com/why-the-queen-said-yes-to-boris-johnsons-request-to-suspend-parliament-122597
The Economist, 29/08/2019: How Parliament can stop Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/08/29/how-parliament-can-stop-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit
The Conversation, 29/08/2019: Is Boris Johnson’s parliamentary prorogation constitutional? How to understand the UK system https://theconversation.com/is-boris-johnsons-parliamentary-prorogation-constitutional-how-to-understand-the-uk-system-122674
Foreign Policy, 29/08/2019: Shutting Down Parliament Is Worse Than a Coup. It’s a Mistake. https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/29/shutting-down-parliament-is-worse-than-a-coup-its-a-mistake/
Foreign Policy, 29/08/2019: The Queen Can’t Do Anything About Brexit https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/29/the-queen-cant-do-anything-about-brexit-prorogue-parliament-boris/
Spiegel Online International, 30/08/2019: Johnson's Brexit Gambit Puts Queen in a Tight Spot https://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/boris-johnson-hard-brexit-gambit-a-challenge-for-the-queen-a-1284480.html
Foreign Policy, 30/08/2019: Britain Can’t Afford the Queen’s Weakness Anymore https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/30/britain-cant-afford-the-queens-weakness-anymore/
Euro|topics, September 2019: Is Johnson destroying British democracy? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/226023/
Politico, 02/09/2019: My trip down the Brexit Party rabbit hole https://www.politico.eu/article/my-trip-down-the-brexit-party-rabbit-hole-nigel-farage/
Institute for Government: Blog, 02/09/2019: The Brexit battle is fundamentally changing the constitution https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/brexit-battle-fundamentally-changing-constitution
The Conversation 03/09/2019: Boris Johnson to seek UK general election – but purging his party of rebels changes the rules of the game https://theconversation.com/boris-johnson-to-seek-uk-general-election-but-purging-his-party-of-rebels-changes-the-rules-of-the-game-122884
Euro|topics, September 2019: Brexit power struggle: rebellion against PM Johnson https://www.eurotopics.net/en/226248/
The Conversation 04/09/2019: Boris Johnson’s move to purge 21 no-deal Brexit rebels will have electoral consequences https://theconversation.com/boris-johnsons-move-to-purge-21-no-deal-brexit-rebels-will-have-electoral-consequences-122983
Euro|topics, September 2019: Commons passes bill against no-deal Brexit https://www.eurotopics.net/en/226412/
The Conversation, 05/09/2019: How Brexit uncertainty is hurting the UK economy – in four charts https://theconversation.com/how-brexit-uncertainty-is-hurting-the-uk-economy-in-four-charts-122987
The Guardian, 16/09/2019: Bettel's anger highlights a bleak truth: the EU27 just wants Britain to go https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/16/bettels-anger-highlights-a-bleak-truth-the-eu27-just-wants-britain-to-go
BBC News, 17/09/2019: What does 'podiumgate' say about chances of a deal? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49722762
ECFR: Publications, 17/09/2019: Trick or treat? French and German views on ‘Brextension’ https://www.ecfr.eu/publications/summary/vfc_trick_or_treat_french_and_german_views_on_brextension

News
BBC News: Parliament suspension 2019 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c83d55vxz84t/parliament-suspension-2019
EurActiv, 26/07/2019: EU rebuffs Boris Johnson’s call to rework Brexit deal https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/eu-rebuffs-boris-johnsons-call-to-rework-brexit-deal/
EurActiv, 29/07/2019: Assuming EU will not budge, Britain ramps up preparations for no-deal Brexit https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/assuming-eu-will-not-budge-britain-ramps-up-preparations-for-no-deal-brexit/
Politico, 18/08/2019: UK government no-deal Brexit fears revealed in full https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-government-no-deal-brexit-fears-revealed-in-full/
Politico, 19/08/2019: Boris Johnson insists free movement ’will end’ October 31 https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-insists-free-movement-will-end-october-31/
EurActiv, 20/08/2019: Johnson tells EU he wants Brexit deal but without Irish backstop https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/johnson-tells-eu-he-wants-brexit-deal-but-without-backstop/
EurActiv, 20/08/2019: EU’s Tusk rejects Johnson’s plea to scrap Irish backstop https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/eus-tusk-rejects-johnsons-plea-to-scrap-irish-backstop/
Politico, 20/08/2019: UK officials to withdraw from EU meetings from September 1 https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-officials-to-withdraw-from-eu-meetings-from-september-1/
Politico, 20/08/2019: EU rejects Boris Johnson’s Brexit backstop plan https://www.politico.eu/article/tusk-slams-lack-of-realistic-alternatives-on-brexit-backstop/
EurActiv, 20/08/2019: UK yields voting rights to Finland, officials to skip meetings https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/uk-yields-voting-rights-to-finland-officials-to-skip-meetings/
Politico, 22/08/2019: Macron to Johnson: ‘Different’ Brexit agreement not possible in 30 days https://www.politico.eu/article/emmanuel-macron-to-boris-johnson-different-brexit-agreement-not-possible-in-30-days/
Politico, 22/08/2019: UK government to scale back use of Brexit gag orders https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-government-to-scale-back-use-of-brexit-gagging-orders/
EurActiv, 23/08/2019: Boris Johnson starts the long Brexit campaign https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/boris-johnson-starts-the-long-brexit-campaign/
EurActiv, 26/08/2019: UK officially declines to name new EU Commissioner https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/uk-officially-declines-to-name-new-eu-commissioner/
EurActiv, 28/08/2019: Queen approves Johnson’s request to suspend UK parliament in new twist of Brexit drama https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/johnson-asks-queen-to-suspend-parliament-as-brexit-drama-takes-new-twist/
The Economist, 29/08/2019: Boris Johnson suspends Parliament, causing uproar https://www.economist.com/britain/2019/08/29/boris-johnson-suspends-parliament-causing-uproar
EurActiv, 29/08/2019: Johnson sparks fury in UK after suspension of parliament, EU stays cool https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/johnson-sparks-fury-in-uk-after-suspension-of-parliament-eu-stays-cool/
Politico, 31/08/2019: Protests across the UK over parliament suspension https://www.politico.eu/article/protests-across-the-uk-over-parliament-suspension/
Politico, 01/09/2019: Michel Barnier: No alternative to backstop until withdrawal deal ratified https://www.politico.eu/article/barnier-no-alternative-to-backstop-until-withdrawal-deal-ratified/
EurActiv, 02/09/2019: Johnson mulls snap election as MPs seek to block no-deal Brexit https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/johnson-mulls-snap-election-as-mps-seek-to-block-no-deal-brexit/
Politico, 02/09/2019: UK MPs publish plan to prevent no-deal Brexit https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-mps-publish-plan-to-prevent-no-deal-brexit/
Politico, 02/09/2019: Boris Johnson’s election threat to would-be rebels https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-says-he-wont-ask-for-brexit-extension/
The Guardian, 03/09/2019: Boris Johnson to seek election after rebel Tories deliver Commons defeat https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/03/boris-johnson-suffers-commons-defeat-as-tories-turn-against-him
BBC News, 04/09/2019: PM in new battle after Commons vote defeat https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49574217
Deutsche Welle, 04/09/2019: Boris Johnson suffers major defeat in no-deal Brexit vote https://p.dw.com/p/3Oy1A
Reuters, 04/09/2019: Johnson bids for election as opponents seek to stop no-deal Brexit https://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKKCN1VP0RH
BBC News, 04/09/2019: Boris Johnson's call for general election rejected by MPs https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-49584907
EurActiv, 05/09/2019: Johnson to hold new vote on snap election, as brother quits over Brexit strategy https://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/news/johnson-to-hold-new-vote-on-snap-election-as-brother-quits-over-brexit-strategy/
Politico, 05/09/2019: Boris Johnson inches closer to a Brexit election gamble https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-inches-closer-to-a-brexit-election-gamble/
Politico, 05/09/2019: Boris Johnson would rather be ‘dead in a ditch’ than delay Brexit https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-dead-in-a-ditch-than-delay-brexit/
Deutsche Welle, 16/09/2019: No Brexit breakthrough as Johnson meets Juncker, EU says https://p.dw.com/p/3PevY
France24, 16/09/2019: 'We need more than just words,' EU official says after Brexit talks https://www.france24.com/en/20190916-no-apparent-progress-brexit-talks-between-johnson-juncker

Official
UK Government: Prime Minister's statement on 2 September 2019 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-statement-2-september-2019
European Commission: Press Release, 16/09/2019: Statement by the European Commission following the working lunch between President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister Boris Johnson https://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-5579_en.htm
UK Government: PM meeting with President of the European Commission: 16 September 2019 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-meeting-with-president-of-the-european-commission-16-september-2019

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