UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 21 APRIL 2017
The head of the UK’s first Centre for Brexit Studies believes the country’s snap general election will make no difference to its Brexit negotiation position and that Gibraltar remains a problematic issue ahead of talks.
Speaking before a visit to Madrid next week (April 24-26) Professor Alex de Ruyter, Director of the Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University, said the likelihood of a Conservative victory in the election meant Britain’s bargaining position was unlikely to change.
Professor de Ruyter, who will be in Madrid for a British Council event, also believes that the status of Gibraltar is likely to prove a sticking point in negotiations.
He said: “Barring an outcome such as a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition, possibly supported by the Scottish National Party – which current polls suggest is extremely unlikely – there will be no change in the UK’s approach to Brexit negotiations, or relative bargaining position.
“For the EU, the most pressing concerns will be the outcome of the French Presidential elections in May – in which two candidates have expressed anti-EU views, and then German elections later in the year.
“What will be more interesting will be the regional breakdown of the vote in the UK, particularly with Scotland and Northern Ireland. Both of these recorded strong “remain” votes in the 2016 referendum and a repeat performance for ‘Remain’ parties will only serve to increase tensions within the UK.
“Similarly, the Spanish government dropping objections to an independent Scotland being allowed to apply to join the EU, and the EU insistence on no ‘hard border’ between the UK and Ireland have also served to cloud the UK’s negotiating position.”
The Centre for Brexit Studies is already carrying out research into how Britain’s vote to leave the European Union will impact Gibraltar.
Research will examine how Brexit will effect links between defence organisations of different countries and avoid Gibraltar becoming a security risk - particularly in relation to illegal immigration, and drug and human trafficking from North Africa to Spain.