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A new poll by YouGov puts the new Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage in first place for the European Parliament elections, which are due to go ahead in the UK on 23 May if the Withdrawal Agreement has not been ratified. The poll, conducted between 15 and 16 April in Great Britain, shows the Brexit Party leading with 27%, followed by Labour with 22% and the Conservative Party in third place with 15%. The Green Party was on 10%, Liberal Democrats, 9%, UKIP, 7%, Change UK, 6% and the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru together on 4%.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning, polling expert Sir John Curtice said that the poll did not actually show “a marked increase in support for pro-Brexit parties,” adding, ” There’s been this very sudden resorting away from UKIP to the Brexit Party… Nigel Farage is evidently relatively quickly winning the battle with UKIP to be the premier party in favour of Brexit.”
Meanwhile, a separate YouGov poll for The Times also puts the Brexit Party in the lead on 23%, Labour on 22%, the Conservatives Party, 17%, the Green Party, 10% and the Liberal Democrats, 9%. Change UK was on 8% and UKIP, 6%. The poll was carried out between 16 and 17 April.
The Daily Shakeup will be back on Tuesday 23 April. In the meantime, the Open Europe team wishes Happy Easter holidays to all of our subscribers!
YouGov The Times BBC
The Director General for Border Co-ordination at HM Revenue and Customs, Karen Wheeler, said, “There is no technology solution which would mean that you could do customs controls and processes and not have a hard [Irish] border…If there was, trust me, we would have found it.” She told businesses in a speech this week that there are technologies which can assist with automated customs processing or tracking goods, adding, “Many of them would take years to implement and there is no border in the world which has a full package of all of these technologies.”
This comes as the European Commission’s Secretary General Martin Selmayr told ARTE broadcaster, “Let’s be very clear – if there is no Withdrawal Agreement there will be a hard border” on the island of Ireland.
The German government has lowered its growth forecast for 2019 to just 0.5%. German Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier said yesterday that this was a “a wake-up call” for the German economy, adding that politicians needed to think about how they could stimulate growth.
This comes as the European Union has released a list of the US products it could hit with new tariffs, as part of a dispute over subsidies given to aircraft maker Boeing. The list covers $20bn of imports into Europe each year and hundreds of different items, ranging from dried fruit to ketchup, fish, tobacco, handbags and suitcases.
The two leading contenders to be the next President of the European Commission, the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) Manfred Weber and leader of the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Frans Timmermans yesterday participated in a televised debate. They both called for more coordinated European defence and a revision of EU rules on asylum. Discussing the European plan of French President Emmanuel Macron, Timmermans said he believes Macron’s government “makes clear right-wing choices sometimes”, whilst Weber said he would fight for “compromise” and a “Christian democrat Europe.” The two leaders also discussed austerity, where Timmermans pointed to the “remarkable economic success” of the Spanish and the Portuguese governments for their programs, “which were not inspired by the austerity they [the EPP] propose.” Weber responded that any successes were because of the “necessary reforms” made by both countries’ former conservative leaders, explaining, “In France with [François] Hollande and Italy with [Matteo] Renzi, the socialists totally failed to do the necessary reforms.”
A majority vote in the European Commission yesterday guaranteed that the Horizon Europe programme will be fully operational by January 2021. Horizon Europe is a €100 billion research and innovation programme that will replace the Horizon 2020 initiative and continue until 2027. European Commissioner Carlos Moedas said, “From the left to the right to the middle, every one of you converged to this agreement and to the fact that we can really change the lives of scientists and researchers, and our children’s future.”
In a new blog, Open Europe’s Jacob Osborne examines recent political developments in France ahead of the upcoming European elections. President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-EU La République en Marche currently leads the polls, closely followed by the Eurosceptic Rassemblement National. Osborne writes that the European Parliament elections “will be more than just a referendum on Macron’s leadership. At the heart of the elections is a widening division in French politics over the institutions and future course of the EU itself.” He continues, “One of the major recent themes of modern French politics has been the rapid decline of the traditional centrist parties,” which he argues is a sign that the French public desire “more radical political change at both a national and European level.” He concludes, “While Macron is currently projected to win the European elections, he will have to proceed with caution,” as “over a third of votes are likely to go to strong Eurosceptic parties that are outside the political centre… In this difficult political landscape, it remains to be seen how successful Macron will be with his reformist agenda.”
Elsewhere, in an article for the opinion website 1828, Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe surveys the “long road to Brexit” at the EU level. He assesses the role of the single currency and the Lisbon Treaty in creating the conditions that led to Brexit, arguing, “Crocodile tears were shed after the British people voted to leave, but many in Brussels should realise they carry responsibility for the divorce too.”