The Brexit Negotiations: Hampered by the UK’s Weak Strategy

Forthcoming in Federico Fabbrini (ed), The Law & Politics of Brexit Volume Two: The Terms of Withdrawal (Oxford University Press 2019)

DCU Brexit Institute - Working Paper N. 5-2019

25 Pages Posted: 28 May 2019

See all articles by Emily Jones

Emily Jones

University of Oxford - Blavatnik School of Government

Date Written: April 15, 2019

Abstract

This paper scrutinises the UK government’s approach to the Brexit negotiations. Brexit negotiations were always going to be incredibly tough given the complexity of issues and a deeply divided country in the wake of the EU referendum but Theresa May’s government compounded these challenges with a poorly executed negotiation strategy both in Brussels and at home. The UK government embarked on negotiations with the EU without a clear set of negotiating objectives; it was unable to represent itself as a unified negotiating team; often found itself on the back foot, responding to EU proposals on both sequencing and content; and it pursued an ill-judged distributive strategy that did not reflect the nature of the underlying negotiating prob-lem or the UK’s relative power position. Across the negotiating table, the UK faced an EU negotiating team that had a clear set of negotiating objectives; maintained unity during the negotiations; and always seemed to be a step ahead, with a carefully thought-through strategy and detailed proposals. The shortcomings in the UK government’s strategy reflected weak political leadership. The Prime Minister focused on securing the short-term political survival of her government amidst turbulent and fractious domestic politics, over negoti-ations with the EU27.

Keywords: Brexit, Negotiations, European Union, Article 50, UK

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Jones, Emily, The Brexit Negotiations: Hampered by the UK’s Weak Strategy (April 15, 2019). Forthcoming in Federico Fabbrini (ed), The Law & Politics of Brexit Volume Two: The Terms of Withdrawal (Oxford University Press 2019); DCU Brexit Institute - Working Paper N. 5-2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3380338 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3380338

Emily Jones (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Blavatnik School of Government ( email )

10 Merton St
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4JJ
United Kingdom

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