Two new texts on Brexit

26th February 2020

There are two new important texts of interest to those following Brexit.


The first are the latest negotiation guidelines of the European Union.

As with the lead-up to the withdrawal agreement, the detail of the European Union’s published position will probably be the best single source for understanding both what will happen next and what the final agreement will look like.

This is not to say that is a complete source: politics and circumstances will make a difference, and there is – as with the exit arrangements – a non-trivial risk of no deal.

But even taking account of such contingencies, the directives are the best place to start.


The other text is a speech by the United Kingdom negotiator David Frost.

There is a lot in the speech to dismiss – but there are some fascinating passages too.

And the overall importance of the speech is perhaps not  in any of its components but in the very fact of its existence: a serious and no doubt sincere attempt by an official to set out the post-Brexit vision of the United Kingdom government.

This blog will look carefully at both texts in the next few days, as both documents reward careful attention.


Thank you for visiting this law and policy blog.

I will be spending less time on Twitter in 2020 as I want to move back into longer-form writing – in particular examining and commenting on key texts and other developments.

If you value this free-to-read and independent constitutional, legal and policy commentary, you can follow and support this blog by:

  • subscribing to this blog, there is subscription box above (on an internet browser) or on a pulldown list (on mobile); 
  • becoming a Patreon subscriber.


Comments are welcome but pre-moderated, and so comments will not be published if irksome. 

5 thoughts on “Two new texts on Brexit”

  1. Hi David

    Look forward to these posts. If you haven’t already (which I doubt), it might be interesting for you also to consider the shift in position that David Frost has made from June 2016 ( to his speech the other day – which I’d summarise as from ‘pragmatic business-oriented Tory’ to ‘full-on cargo cultist’ – if you’ll pardon my hyperbole.

  2. The EU guidelines follow the Political Declaration and are consistent with previous statements of intent. Frost seems to be speaking to the UK public and is consistent with the more moderate wing of the ERG. Not hard to guess what will happen. The immovable object tends to win. I do not see any way in which the EU side can compromise. Given the UK government’s large majority, the most likely solutions are: (1) doing what the EU wants (and there is some room for fine tuning) and (2) leaving in a confrontational manner. Mr Frost (given hist intimate knowledge of EU processes) will have to find small trophies, make them look valuable and hide whatever could be used as ammunition by the demagogues (the ones still standing). That will be quite difficult. Silencing the demagogues may be easier. Assuming responsible government.

  3. Dear David:
    Off the top on a first read; why have arts of editing died? Does Mr. Frost believe that his thoughts were so obvious in their conceptual merit that errors of syntax, grammar, spelling, or punctuation do not matter and will not distract his readers? It seems that the Prime Minister’s Greenwich speech suffered from the same approach.
    I will now read M. Bernier’s opening position and then look forward to your comparative analysis of the pair of documents.
    Kind regards (and thanks for your efforts)


  4. Dear David:

    Not a reply but really a further immediate thought on Mr. Frost’s speech flows from my musings on your blog last year. I wondered then whether you thought that the Good Friday Accord’s terms might rise to the level of being embedded as a “constitutional document” in the Canadian sense. Mr. Frost confidently sweeps past any possible complications of either a reunification referendum in Ireland or an affirmative independence referendum in Scotland. Either might bring the “supremacy of Parliament” proclaimed in the U. K. Brexit legislation under some question, qualification, or limitation. The Good Friday Accord as an agreement among sovereign states might seem to be particularly troublesome.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.