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Whether a new WA would be "very different" from the old one (or not, as Macron insists) is subjective. The *objective* take is Macron and Merkel both imply the WA can be reopened - and without the Commission in the room. Interesting couple of trips for Boris Johnson.

To access our Political Intelligence Reports, email greig@theguideconsultancy.com 



Our weekly intelligence reports are ahead of what’s in the public domain. Here’s a small example of our method.

Weeks ago, people insisted Boris Johnson wouldn’t speak with EU leaders face-to-face – but we told clients “HMG is hoping to engineer a meeting with Merkel before the G7 summit in Biarritz”. That meeting is happening today.

From late July we noticed a pattern in the calls to Johnson to congratulate him on becoming PM. For example, Boris told the leaders of Canada, the USA and Japan that he would see them “at the G7 summit in Biarritz in August”. But the line was different with Merkel – this time the readout from No.10 said “The PM and Chancellor agreed to stay in contact”.

As Boris could be sure of seeing his German counterpart and fellow G7 leader at Biarritz, the very absence of mentioning the summit showed they wanted to meet before it – and were hiding that in plain sight.

For detailed political analysis, please email GUIDE's Chief Executive on greig@theguideconsultancy.com


Our sources say the Irish Government worries it has overplayed its hand on Brexit. And because of the political situation in Ireland, Leo Varadkar does not want to take the blame for that.

Instead, if Ireland finds itself in a tricky spot, it will say to the other EU26 “you broke it, so you fix it”.

That means that the new UK Prime Minister might make a bee line for Dublin, but it could be a wasted trip – not because the Irish are unwilling to change, but because they need the cover of Brussels forcing them to do it.

For detailed political analysis, please email GUIDE's Chief Executive on greig@theguideconsultancy.com 


Those MPs who would force an early General Election in a bid to shape (or stop) Brexit might be missing something: if the new Prime Minister is so pro-Brexit that their opponents wish to bring the house down, it seems unlikely that the same Prime Minister would also be so ‘pro-Remain’ that they are happy to ask the EU27 for an extension of Article 50 while the UK goes to the polls. In other words, forcing a General Election to stop Brexit could just make no-deal inevitable.

For detailed political intelligence, please email GUIDE's Chief Executive on greig@theguideconsultancy.com 


Among the immediate challenges facing the next PM, three stand out. First, more EU27 member states are leaning towards a no-deal outcome in October, so a clear strategy is needed for the talks that will happen from November, potentially under very different conditions. Second, the Civil Service must be gripped and given clear objectives and instruction. And third, a combination of factors make parliamentary majorities ever more elusive – so good use must be made of tertiary legislation and non-legislative measures to prepare for what happens next.

For detailed political intelligence, please email GUIDE's Chief Executive on greig@theguideconsultancy.com 


Emissions policy is a practical example of how, in Brexit, there is no standstill option. A ‘clean break’ opens the door to dramatic political reform, while revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU means working with the Commission’s new ambitions for the future. Even the current extension of talks creates new market forces and challenges: UK heavy industry now faces a difficult balancing act when it comes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as it is still subject to the EU regulations that set terms but does not have full access to permits, because the EU27 want to avoid a flood of UK-issued allowances entering the market if Brexit happens. Whatever we see between now and October – in politics as in business – there is no option to keep things the same as before.

To access our Political Intelligence Reports, email greig@theguideconsultancy.com 


Extending Article 50 does not just mean a change of dates. There are three more substantive effects. First, HMG has committed to “facilitate the achievement of the Union’s tasks […] in particular when participating in the decision-making processes” -  so it promises not to hinder EU27 budget, appointment, or policy decisions. Second (and in case the UK reneges on the first point), the agreement allows the EU27 to make any decision without the UK if it so wishes. And third, in a bid to navigate the election of a new European Parliament, the EU27 will decide when the Withdrawal Agreement comes into force even if HMG can get its own legislation through Westminster.


Today, EU Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen confirms disruption of health safety measures will be limited in the event of no-deal. Katainen says “we remain in intense contact with the UK and EU27 to ensure that all certificates for the medical devices issued in the UK, are transferred to the EU27 before the withdrawal date […] But, if problems were to arise, Member States have the possibility to use the derogation provided in existing legislation which would authorise the temporary placing on the market of medical devices that have not been certified by an EU body”. In other words, Member States can ignore EU rules in the short term and continue to trade with the UK as before.


Discussing the prospect of a no-deal Brexit today, EU Commissioner Moscovici says “Our common goal is to protect European consumers and the integrity of our internal market without disrupting the activity of European companies that regularly trade with the United Kingdom. Of course, enforcing customs legislation, does not mean controlling all shipments or trucks systematically. It would be absurd for us to be tougher or stricter with a country that comes out of the European Union.”


Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, says this year’s Spending Review will include a “zero-based” approach to all major infrastructure projects so focus can be given to “local transport around our cities and counties”. In other words, HMG will take a no-holds-barred fresh look at other spending that had already been committed. Taken together with Brexit and internal Conservative politics, this could spell trouble for controversial projects like HS2.


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