Tory divisions gave Brussels the edge in Brexit talks, researchers say
3 months ago
Theresa May prioritized party management over Brexit strategy, study says.
LONDON — Divisions within the Conservative party allowed the European Union to set the agenda during the first phase of the Brexit negotiations, according to an academic study.
Infighting within the Tory party when it was led by Theresa May meant the U.K. lost ground on the production of key negotiating texts and guidelines, allowing the EU to “box-in” British negotiators, according to researchers from three British universities.
Their study, published in the Journal of European Public Policy, suggests the Tories prioritized the survival and management of the party over long-term strategic policy thinking about Brexit.
“Even before the 2017 election Theresa May was almost impermeable to arguments aired in Cabinet, and instead relied on a small and narrow clique of Eurosceptic MPs to formulate hear early Brexit ‘strategy’. She felt as if she had to do that because she had lost her majority,” said Claudio Radaelli, a professor of public policy at University College London.
The team, which also involved researchers from King’s College and the University of Exeter, analyzed public documents about Brexit — including civil service reports, think tank reports and media coverage over this period — and conducted interviews with U.K. policymakers and representatives of think tanks, industry and lobby groups.