Category Archives: Commentary

Interview: Scotland after Brexit. Council on Foreign Relations. 09/08/2016

As a result of the Brexit vote to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom is likely to see another Scottish independence referendum in its future, says Chatham House’s Richard G. Whitman. Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, is now openly considering the viability of an independent state with separate EU membership, raising questions about the future of both Scottish and English nationalism. Despite its quest for self-governance, “Scotland’s path into the future, possibility for independence, and relationship with the EU is paradoxically tied up with the rest of the United Kingdom even if it would like to pursue a separate path,” says Whitman.

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Commentary: European Policy Centre: Soft or hard Brexit? 15/07/2016

Professor Whitman has published a commentary piece for the European Policy Centre on negotiating the UK’s departure from the EU. The full piece is available here.


The EU is in uncharted waters when it comes to negotiating the UK’s exit from the Union. Creative and flexible thinking will be required from all parties if an orderly departure is to be managed. The alternative is a fractious, mutually damaging and disorderly Brexit. This commentary argues for a short-term, time-limited agreement to stabilise the EU-UK relationship and to allow breathing space to develop the terms of a long-term strategic partnership.

At present much attention has been given to the modalities and timetable for invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. There is no certainty as to when the UK government will invoke the article; nor is there an accompanying ‘user guide’ on how to realise an orderly disentangling of a member state from the EU. The UK’s current political turmoil hampers the chances for an orderly exit.

What the country needs, but what seems to be currently impossible, is to rapidly establish cross-political party agreement on what form of future relationship it wants to have with the EU. The post-Referendum leadership hiatus in the UK has worked against this imperative, and the ‘dis-United Kingdom’ further complicates and threatens a consensus. The Scottish National Party, Gibraltese, and Northern Ireland politicians have all made clear their desire to preserve a place for their territories within the EU. As things stand now, a serious cross-party debate on the UK’s desired relationship with the EU will not start until, after the leadership of the Labour Party has been (re)confirmed and can debate with the UK’s new Prime Minister Theresa May.

Podcast: Brexit’s Implications for UK Diplomacy and Defence 03/06/2016

Tom Raines from Chatham House sits down with two authors from the latest Brexit-focused issue of International Affairs. Professor Richard Whitman discusses the effects of a Leave vote on the UK’s diplomatic strategy in Europe, while Matthew Uttley explores the overlooked topic of how Leave might affect defence industries and procurement. They also examine what the UK-France relationship might look like with Britain outside the EU.

The full recording is available here.