The Brief – Calm after the storm?

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter

After the storm came relative calm. Boris Johnson joined former Brexit Secretary David Davis in resigning yesterday after spending most of the last two years trying to be sacked.

The dramatic double resignation sparked talk of a mass walk-out by ‘hard Brexit’ supporting ministers and attempts to oust Theresa May.

But 24 hours later, Mrs May is still standing and for all the febrile talk of further resignations and a possible challenge to her leadership, her government staggers on, bloodied but unbowed.

The long-promised White Paper, which will be based on the agreement thrashed out last Friday at Chequers, will be published on Thursday.

Even Donald Trump, the international community’s most vocal cheerleader for Brexit Britain says that the country is in ‘turmoil’.

One of the biggest problems facing the Brexiteers is that the parliamentary arithmetic is against them.

It will take 48 MPs to send letters to Graham Brady, the MP who chairs the backbench 1922 committee, to trigger a leadership ballot. That can be obtained. But what then?

Under the Conservative party’s rules, two candidates are elected by MPs to contest a run-off election by the party’s members. But Boris Johnson is sufficiently loathed by enough of his colleagues to make it unlikely that he would get to the run-off.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is an option only if the Conservative party has truly taken leave of its senses.

So bitter are the Tory party’s divisions on Brexit that the most likely successors to May are Jeremy Hunt, newly elevated to the Foreign Office, and Sajid Javid, himself recently appointed as Home Secretary.

Both quietly backed Remain in June 2016 but have since declared themselves converts to the Brexit cause. Neither, however, would give the ‘hard Brexiteers’ what they want.

While this civil war is playing out in Westminster, the clock on the Article 50 talks is ticking. Unless May resigns (her office insist that she would fight any leadership challenge) and a compromise candidate is given a quick coronation, the leadership contest would gobble up several months.

That has brought the idea of asking for an extension to the Article 50 process back into the equation.

“Every June you do something crazy,” a German diplomat quipped to this reporter last June, days after Britons voted to knee-cap Theresa May’s government in the general election. Most Brits in Brussels can offer a similar anecdote.

This time the madness is playing out in July. The unseasonal hot weather is clearly having an effect on the once pragmatic, cautious Brits.

If Mrs May can only get a ‘soft Brexit’ through the UK parliament at the cost of potentially losing her government, a ‘hard’ or ‘no deal’ Brexit wouldn’t get through parliament at all. That would mean more desperate negotiations with Brussels or another general election, likely to be won by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.

More than anything else, it is this hard truth that explains why Mrs May is still in office.

The Roundup

By Freya Kirk

Olives could be the cause for another spat between the EU and the US and could question the functioning of the CAP. Council President Donald Tusk was kind enough to remind his presidential namesake that friends are better than enemies.

There’s more to the Austrian Presidency than just migration, as digital health and access to drugs will also take centre stage.

Transparency International recently compiled external income of MEPs into a list, at the very top is Lithuanian MEP Antanas Guoga with €200,000 of monthly additional revenue.

Romania’s government will tax offshore oil and gas producers, and make sure fuels are mostly sold on the domestic market. The point? To try and cut reliance on Russian imports.

Corruption is still widespread in Ukraine, President Poroshenko was asked by EU leaders to take credible steps to tackle the issue.

Turns out that three-quarters of all ivory sold legally in Europe is actually illicit, according to a recent investigation led by Oxford University.

As temperatures outside have gotten warmer there has been an increasing trend to rely on ACs, a trend which is set to become far more important because of climate change.

Look out for….

The all-important NATO summit in Brussels from 11-12 July. Trump is already on the way.

World Cup Watch

Belgium and France go head-to-head tonight, and one little guy is already looking forward to the match.

A Belgium fan and an England fan walk into a bar on Monday and order a pint of Jupiler and a pint of Carling. The England fan says: “we’re playing Croatia on Wednesday.” The Belgian fan says: “What a coincidence! We’re playing them on Sunday!” WAHEY.

Views are the author’s

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