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Former leading Irish Ambassador Ray Bassett — now Policy Exchange’s Senior Fellow for EU Affairs — examines the state of play in Brexit negotiations so far. Dr. Bassett notes that little progress has been made on key three issues that are holding up the negotiations – reciprocal rights of EU and UK citizens, the Brexit Divorce Bill and the Irish border. However, he suggests that there is less unanimity in the EU27 position than appears on surface and that the new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, may dissent from the official EU position on the need to establish a customs border. Ultimately, as negotiations continue, the power of decision will shift from Brussels to Berlin, suggesting that pragmatism and self-interest may prevail, with a good trading relationship prioritised over the desire to punish the UK for leaving.
Rebecca Lowe Coulson — Policy Exchange’s State and Society Research Fellow — reflects on the way in which the escalating rate of VC pay seems neatly emblematic of the pressing questions the Higher Education sector is facing. Policy Exchange is currently undertaking work on this topic, with a report due out in the autumn to coincide with the start of the new academic year.
Dr Graham Gudgin – Policy Exchange’s Chief Economic Adviser, former Director of the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre, and Special Advisor to the Northern Ireland First Minister from 1998-2002 – examines the deal signed this week between the Conservative Government and the DUP, and argues that Scottish nationalist criticism of extra spending in Northern Ireland is hypocritical and misplaced.
John Blake — Policy Exchange’s Head of Education and Social Reform, a self-proclaimed Corbynsceptic – considers the remarkable success of Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 general election, exploring the ingredients which made up Jeremy’s “marvellous medicine”.
Dr Austen Morgan, a barrister in London and Belfast, one of the UUP’s talks team for the Belfast Agreement and author of The Belfast Agreement: a practical legal analysis, explains why Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was wrong when he told the Prime Minister that any agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) would be in breach of the Good Friday Agreement.
Jeffrey Dudgeon – co-founder of the gay rights movement in Northern Ireland and author of ‘Roger Casement:The Black Diaries’ — sits on Belfast City Council with the DUP. As a long time political and cultural opponent of their approach, he finds them to be surprisingly flexible in practice on gay rights and other social issues. Policy Exchange Director Dean Godson, author of Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism, writes for the Sunday Times on the wider issues round the Conservative Party’s relations with the DUP.
‘I have done a terrible, terrible thing. I have voted Labour for the first time. My father and grandfather would turn in their graves, but I was worried about my pension. All I have is my house and the state pension that I manage on.’ These were the words of a typical voter – who had initially pledged Conservative – when she was reminded by Tory canvassers to vote last Thursday evening in a marginal constituency in Plymouth; later that night, the seat changed hands, from Conservative to Labour. Many things went wrong for the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party in this General Election — so what, asks Warwick Lightfoot, Director of Research at Policy Exchange, are the lessons that can be taken from this voter’s change of heart?
Policy Exchange Director Dean Godson, author of Himself Alone: David Trimble and the Ordeal of Unionism, writes for the Sunday Times on the wider issues round the Conservative Party’s relations with the DUP.
Policy Exchange Director Dean Godson looks at the government’s renewed emphasis on Islamist extremism in the wake of the Borough attacks – and notes Theresa May’s focus on ideology as the “upstream” source of much of the problem. The Government’s task now is to ensure that its policy on counter-extremism is implemented throughout the public sector – which, as all Prime Ministers have found since 7/7, is easier said than done
Theresa May’s Leadership and the Post-Brexit Conservative Opportunity: creating a popular people’s party
Warwick Lightfoot — Policy Exchange’s Director of Research, and Head of Economics and Social Policy — was special adviser to three Chancellors of the Exchequer during the ERM controversy. Here he responds to last week’s Conservative Party manifesto, noting that the ‘electoral earthquake’ of Brexit has offered Theresa May ‘the opportunity to reunite the Conservative Party and the wider centre-right spectrum’ on the issue of Europe, in a way which is ‘little short of astonishing’.