All talk in relation to the UK’s referendum on its contnued membership of the EU and subsequent Brexit result has focused more on policy than people, and issues rather than individuals. What do we know about those politicians and leaders who will oversee the invoking of Art 50, and negotiations? Who will be important to watch during the transitional stages of withdrawal?
Here is where it gets interesting. For you see, a website has conducted research to determine the power-players to watch during the negotiations. And it has complied quite the list. With a twist, I should add: despite the UK’s referendum on the EU being called by a man, and both the Leave campaign and the Remain campaign being led by men, women actually have been found to now hold most of the cards when it comes to negotiating Brexit.
Unsurprisingly (at least in my opinion) Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Nicola Sturgeon top the 50-strong list of the key figures who will influence the next two years (or more) of talks on the future EU-UK relationship.
The British Prime Minister (who is adamant she will not call a General Election), German Chancellor (who recently declared her intent to seek re-election) and Scottish First Minister (safely returned with her majority SNP government in May) head a list of influencial persons, which sees 22% women representation. Another eight women make up the #Brexit50, which was compiled by an expert panel comprised of academics, journalists, and think-tankers.
Daniela Vincenti, editor-in-chief of EurActiv.com said of the list:
“This unprecedented political divorce will be hugely important to the futures of both sides of the split. Our Brexit50 ranking gives you a glance at the movers and shakers that will play a key role in this process in the months and years ahead.”
Readers would not be surprised at the UK and German politicians’ pole positions; these women are the two most powerful leaders in the talks. (EurActive did describe both as ‘democratically-elected’, yet it should be noted that Ms May was not elected as Prime Minister, nor as the leader of the Conservative Party this summer). Ms Sturgeon took third place given her powerful platform dervived from the Scottish Remain vote: not only an overwhelming pro-EU vote nationally, but from every constituency.
That has led to the Scottish Government joining an ongoing legal case arguing for Article 50 to be triggered through the Westminster Parliament. The Scottish Government hopes the requireent of a Parliamentary consultation and vote might even possibly extend to the devolved administrations (Northern Ireland also voted to stay in the EU.)
The remaining personalities from Top Ten – all men, it should be noted – are:
- Michel Barnier, the chief EU Brexit negotiator,
- Donald Tusk, who as President of the EU Council must keep all 27 other heads of government in agreement,
- Francois Hollande, President of France (although not for much longer),
- Phillip Hammond, the UK Chancellor,
- David Davis, the Secretary of State for the EU,
- Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, and
- Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator.
All will find the coming 24 months largely dominated by the talks, which are already shrouded in secrecy, ucertainity, frustration and some mistrust.
Overall, the UK and Germany top the list in terms of nationalities of the personalities involved, with 22 and nine, respectively. More than 10 other nationalities are represented. Most are politicians, followed by officials from the institutions, plus the media and other stakeholders.
The most powerful media figure was held to be the editor of the Eurosceptic Daily Mail, Paul Dacre, in 25th place.
An unexpected figure was Gina Miller, one of the plaintiffs in the English legal challenge to ensure the British Government consulted the UK Parliament over Article 50.
The power ranking is also transitory, and based upon the current standings of those involved. As previously mentioned, President Hollande is unlikely to still be French President in a year’s time. Moreover Martin Schulz announced last week he would leave the European Parliament – although that move is likely to see him end up as German Foreign Minister, or maybe even Chancellor.
And others, who say they are departing, are likely to continue to carry some weight. Former UKIP Leader Nigel Farage might be rumoured to be departing soon for the US, but that does not mean he will not follow the negotiations.
A timely note of caution before we celebrate the prominent positions of women politicians on this list. The potential election of another woman, Marine Le Pen of the FN, (number 38 in the list), as French president next year, could just throw the whole future of the EU itself into doubt.