Posts Tagged ‘Featured’

Long read | Brexiteers might have succeeded, but Brexit will fail

After the conclusion of negotiations between the twenty-seven EU Member States and Boris Johnson’s government on the UK’s EU withdrawal agreement, Brexiteers seem to finally be on the verge of achieving their goal, writes Thierry Chopin (ESPOL/Bruges). But will Brexit succeed? Probably not, or else in its current form it will cause many losers, including those who voted to leave the EU and could turn bitter.

In 2016, a majority of eligible voters, in particular in England, decided that their country should leave the European Union. The deal that was patiently negotiated by Theresa May and the twenty-seven Heads of State and government of the other EU Member States was not ratified by the UK Parliament, which had become more fragmented than ever. None of the motions submitted to a vote (soft Brexit, reconsideration of Brexit, customs union, second referendum) obtained a majority. Prime Minister Boris Johnson now defends – together with his closest advisers (first and foremost Dominic Cummings) – the option of a hard Brexit according to which the UK’s economic model should transition to a ‘Singapore-on-Thames’ to achieve success outside the EU. In such a context, the question if Brexit will succeed is more pertinent than ever[1].

What is the objective of Brexit: Global Britain or isolationism?

During the referendum campaign, two seemingly contradictory political visions could be found amongst ‘Leave’ supporters. The first is isolationism, fuelled by fear of immigration and the quest for sovereignty, reinforced by the influx of refugees. In fact, many Brexit supporters have been confused about freedom of movement in Europe and immigration from beyond the EU’s borders. It should be noted here that some in the UK (particularly those from Commonwealth backgrounds) see Brexit as an opportunity to address the perception that nationals from the rest of the world are treated unfairly in comparison to EU citizens when trying to obtain the right to work and live in the United Kingdom.

The second vision is that the United Kingdom should become an advocate for free trade and an offshore financial centre. Supported by the memory of the empire and the good health of the Commonwealth, as well as the desire to preserve its claimed status as the world’s leading financial centre, it affirms the global vocation of the United Kingdom (Global Britain), which European regulatory constraints supposedly hinder. The two visions, isolationism and globalism, are based on political and identity-based logic rather than economic and utilitarian rationale. And their contradictions are apparent: Leave supporters dream of making the United Kingdom a ‘great Switzerland’, globally open to foreign capital and trade in manufactured goods and services (while protecting its agriculture), connected to the EU through sectoral agreements, but closed to immigration.

But it is far from certain that the majority of British citizens who voted in favour of Brexit want the United Kingdom to turn into ‘Singapore-on-Thames’. While this was true for neoliberal Brexiteers, leftist Brexiteers rather hoped for a return to a purely national welfare state unconstrained by EU competition rules. This was in line with the idea that the Labour party, if it came to power, could more easily implement its programme once it had rid itself of the ‘neoliberal treaties’ on which the EU is based. Moreover, arguments around the economic benefits of openness were mainly invoked by ‘Remainers’. When Leave supporters discussed economic implications, many defended the need to rebalance between London, which took advantage of the country’s membership in the EU, and the many other parts of the country that failed to make the most of European and international economic and financial openness. In this respect, it is striking to see to what extent the issue of inequality has played an important role in the economic discourse surrounding Brexit. Many would like to see the United Kingdom become less open than in the past; British farmers and fishermen seem to want less competition rather than more.

What brought together Brexiteers was the idea of “taking back control”, each component with the hope that its political agenda would eventually triumph domestically. The decision to leave the EU indeed only became possible because a majority of British citizens thought there were national alternatives to EU membership. For Brexiteers, this meant to return full control to the national parliament overall decisions applying to the United Kingdom. Ironically, however, many of them then expressed frustration with the role of the UK Parliament in the Brexit process and supported its prorogation (which was later invalidated by the Supreme Court).

The common narrative among Brexiteers was therefore mainly political, emphasising the themes of sovereignty and immigration (see Figures 1 and 2) and brushing away the different political agendas of its promoters. This contrasted with the clear economic focus of remainers (Figure 2).

Figure 1 ▪ Reasons why Leave voters voted Leave


Source : CSI Brexit 4 : “People’s Stated Reasons for Voting Leave or Remain“, The UK in a Changing Europe, Centre for Social Investigation, Economic and Social Research Council, 24th April 2018

Figure 2 ▪ The themes that influenced the votes by Brexiteers, Remainers and the undecided


Source : Chris Prosser, Jon Mellon, and Jane Green (2016), “What mattered most to you when deciding how to vote in the EU referendum?“, British Election Study, 11/07/2016.

The blindness of hard Brexiteers 

Several elements also highlight the weakness of the “Singapore-on-Thames” promise of neoliberal Brexiteers and the risk that the UK may end up with less rather than more economic sovereignty in globalisation.

First, will the United Kingdom’s ability to negotiate free trade agreements with third countries be stronger outside the EU than within it? There are good reasons for skepticism. The EU’s economic and commercial weight is much greater than the United Kingdom’s. In addition, the EU is less dependent on the United Kingdom than the other way around: 46 per cent of UK exports of goods and services are exported to the EU (compared to 15.5 per cent of exports from the EU to the UK); 53 per cent of UK imports are from the EU (compared to 10.3 per cent of European imports coming from the UK).

Figure 3 ▪ Comparison of trade in goods and services between the UK and the EU and between the UK and the USA in 2018 in per cent.


Source : ONS, PinkBook 

Figure 4 ▪ Comparison of trade in goods and services between the EU and the UK and between the EU and the USA in 2018 in per cent.



Source : European Commission, DG Trade

Negotiations on trade agreements with major powers such as the United States, China and India will be long, and tough for the United Kingdom once it is outside the EU. Negotiating alone puts it in a much less favourable position than negotiating as a Member State of the EU. Given the new power differential that would result from a hard Brexit, it is likely that access to the UK market for US agricultural and agri-food products would have a negative impact on British farmers who would not necessarily benefit from the trade. If some sectors (such as financial services and hedge funds) can benefit from this new situation, it will also result in losers and involve costs for other sectors.

Second, access to a country’s market is provided under a compensation logic which involves third countries. For example, Poland has an interest in opening its market to British companies as long as the United Kingdom allows Polish workers access to its market. China and India will not give more favourable market access to the United Kingdom than to the EU, if London does not relax its visa policy towards Chinese and Indians. Japanese companies are closing sites in the United Kingdom to repatriate them to Japan in order to avoid the uncertainty of Brexit and because of the free trade agreement negotiated by that country with the EU. With regard to taxation, the ‘Singapore-on-Thames’ scenario could also lead London to deploy very aggressive tax competition strategies against its former European partners. But a non-cooperative and combative tax strategy would ignore a number of realities: tax competition is already possible within the EU (as showcased by Ireland and Luxembourg); all Member States are in the process of lowering their corporate tax rates (as is the case in France, for example).

Third, would other EU Member States allow this to happen by turning a blind eye? The European (including British) reaction to the United States on taxing multinational technology companies illustrates that this is not obvious. Last but not least, such a tax strategy would involve financial costs for the financing of the British public sector and therefore political and social cost due to the increase in resulting inequalities. Is this really the choice of a majority of British citizens who voted for Brexit?

Can ‘Singapore-on-Thames be a model?

The ‘Singapore-on-Thames’ narrative has to be questioned at the political, economic and social level. Politically, it should be recalled that Singapore is governed by an authoritarian and clan-based regime (around a few families) in which there is no democratic competition. Economically, Singapore is not only a major financial centre and its growth has been over-determined by its geographical location: Singapore has a world-class port with logistics, trading and refining activities. Conversely, ports in the United Kingdom are underdeveloped compared to those in the EU, particularly in Antwerp and especially Rotterdam. The comparison with Singapore therefore has its limits; we are not talking about the same economy. London is not Singapore and the United Kingdom is not just London; if that had been the case, the United Kingdom would have remained within the EU.

In addition, the comparison with economically prosperous non-EU European countries must be put into perspective. Switzerland, for example, is currently renegotiating its bilateral agreements with the EU, which are not considered satisfactory by either side. Norway is a member of the European Economic Area[2]. It should also be noted that GDP growth in these countries has been lower than that of the United Kingdom (as an EU Member State), the EU, and the euro area over the past 20 years.

Figure 5 ▪ GDP (current US$) European Union, Euro area, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom (in trillion)


Source: World Bank

The United Kingdom’s growth forecasts are also falling in anticipation of its exit from the EU.

Figure 6 ▪ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth forecasts  for the United Kingdom (UK) from 2019 to 2023, by institutions.


Source: Office for Budget Responsibility; IMF; NIESR; Oxford Economics

The neoliberal strategy of financial deregulation, led by Margaret Thatcher, has been successful but it occurred within the framework of the EU market that favours financial services. The City is the financial centre for the euro (the second most traded currency in the world) and will remain an important financial centre. But the United Kingdom will lose the financial passport to serve the euro zone from London and the euro zone will condition access to its financial services market on the equivalence of UK and EU regulations in areas where these possibilities are provided for by European legislation.

Finally, the scenario of making London a ‘Singapore-on-Thames’ implies a reduction in taxes, which raises the question of financing public expenditure and in particular the UK’s National Health Services. Although this would not pose any problems for the Conservatives, left-wing Brexiteers may have a different view… The dilemma facing the British is therefore the following: become a poorer and more unequal country but make decisions under apparent sovereignty? This dilemma must be resolved by the British, who, beyond partisan cleavages, will also be divided on the issue between the United Kingdom’s constituent nations, particularly in the case of Scotland.

From the EU’s perspective, vigilance is required. The “Singapore on Thames” agenda may be adopted by a conservative UK government under the pressure of the hard neoliberal Brexiteers within the Conservative party. The emergence of a British competitor on the EU’s doorstep with low taxation, lower standards, lower costs and free ports, would force the EU to protect its market and would end up creating significant economic barriers between the EU and the UK.


The Brexiteers could finally succeed. Since the referendum, the likelihood of an exit has never been higher. But will Brexit succeed? Probably not, or else it will cause many losers, including those who voted to leave the EU and could turn bitter. The resulting frustration, resentment and anger will only increase the rise of populism in the form of both nationalist and neo-liberal populism on the one hand and left-wing populism on the other. It is obvious that neither the English, nor the British, nor the Europeans would have anything to gain from such a scenario.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE. Image Hans Gerwitz, Some rights reserved.

Thierry Chopin is the author of several books and articles on European integration. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS). He is Professor of Political Science at the Catholic University of Lille (ESPOL, European School of Political and Social Science) and Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Bruges). He is special advisor at the Jacques Delors Institute.

[1] I would like to thank Jean-François Jamet. Our exchanges and discussions on this subject have been of great value. A an earlier version of this text has been published at the Jacques Delors Institute.

[2] The Agreement on the European Economic Area, signed on 2 May 1992, extended the EU’s internal market to the Member States of the European Free Trade Association, with the exception of Switzerland, which has not ratified the agreement. It therefore includes the EU Member States as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. While not belonging to the EU, these states benefit from the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital and must apply the relevant European rules without participating in their development or in the decision-making process. They also participate in certain EU programmes (e.g. research, education, environment and cohesion) and contribute to them in proportion to their GDP. However, they do not participate in tax policy, agricultural and fisheries policy or trade policy towards third countries.

EU migration through the lens of inequality: how Britain shaped the unequal Europe it wants to leave

lorenza antonuccisimone varrialeLorenza Antonucci (University of Birmingham) and Simone Varriale (University of Lincoln) highlight the UK’s influence over EU supranational policies, and explain how Britain contributed to an unequal Europe.

In recent years, British progressives have faced the following conundrum: how can we defend the neoliberal dogma of free movement when Brexit has been the expression of a working class revolt (although this can be challenged) against the EU project? Yet including free movement in a future Labour manifesto – as voted in the 2019 conference – while also aiming to address a number of inequalities, demands seeing EU migration itself through the lenses of inequality. This implies understanding the position of the UK in exacerbating intra-European inequalities; how UK influence in Europe shaped patterns of intra-EU migration; and overcoming a monolithic notion of EU migrants as white and middle class.

mop bucket

EU migrant women often work in low-pay, ‘feminised’ sectors such as cleaning and child care. Photo: KCanard via a CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence

How the UK has contributed EU inequalities

The position of the UK in Europe has always been one of scepticism and emphasis of its national difference, but Britain has imparted many of its flagship policies at the EU level, creating an overlap between the features of the British economic model and the EU’s pro-market stance. There are several examples of this: Margaret Thatcher’s role in driving the completion of the European Single Market; Britain’s influence over the EU’s strategy of building a knowledge-based economy; and, most recently, over how the EU reacted to the 2008 banking crisis.

Britain’s role in Europe is best understood by referring to the concept of core-periphery inequalities that have characterised the EU project since its creation. Capitalist core-periphery dynamics have shaped notions of ‘progress’ and ‘backwardness’ within Europe even before the start of the EU project. For example, Britain’s decision to enter the EEC stemmed from the need to protect white British national identity after Empire. At the same time, Malta and Cyprus – former British colonies – subsequently also joined the EU, and continued this way their trade relationship with their former colonial ruler.

Also, the Lisbon Strategy was based on the division between ‘core’ Nordic countries and liberal countries (the UK and Ireland) viewed as the ‘best practice’ models for the creation of a knowledge-based economy, in opposition to continental and, in particular, Mediterranean countries, which had to be reformed. One of the pillars of the knowledge-based strategy was precisely the optimal allocation of a skilled labour force in knowledge-intense economies. Through this paradigm, the UK reinforced its economic advantage vis-à-vis other EU countries by attracting from peripheral countries both a skilled, university-educated labour force and a lower-skilled workforce employed in sectors like hospitality, retail, and construction.

The influence of the UK in the rest of Europe was also evident during the 2008 crisis, when countries of the periphery, particularly Southern ones, were pressured to reduce their deficits and comply with EU economic criteria by the hegemonic role of Germany and aligned countries, like Britain. Our analysis of the country-specific recommendations that the EU elaborates for its member states shows that, despite a façade of conflict, Britain’s policies broadly aligned with EU strategy and that the UK was virtually unaffected by the European austerity agenda that dramatically affected peripheral countries.

Land of meritocracy? How Britain attracted EU migrants

Intra-EU mobility is an essential and functional aspect of the UK’s role in Europe. The motivation behind the policy of non-restriction towards migrants from Central and Eastern Europe, adopted by the UK with the 2004 enlargement, aimed precisely to ‘fill gaps in the low-skilled sector of the labour market’. This strategy has both economic and symbolic effects.

Quantitatively, the flows of intra-EU migration have tended to go from the periphery of Europe to its core countries. This trend is the consequence of the intra-European divide, with Northern European countries like the UK attracting the highest share of South European migration since the 2008 economic crisis and East-to-West patterns of migration since the 2004 and 2007 enlargements.

Also symbolically, since becoming part of the EU, Britain has reinforced this core-periphery divide by providing a narrative script for the ‘good nation’ that other European countries, via EU policies, are compelled to implement and that EU migrants have internalised to a significant extent. The meritocratic image of London, and of the UK more generally, emerges clearly from the narratives of Southern and Eastern European migrants. Core-periphery inequalities also feed into forms of racialisation that frame different groups of European migrants as more or less culturally ‘developed’. Before the EU referendum, it was especially Central and East European populations that experienced racism in the UK, with Romanian migrants in particular being associated with crime and benefit scrounging. Post-referendum, these stereotypes continue to affect EU migrants in unequal ways, as reported by emerging research on experiences of racism among young Eastern Europeans.

Beyond the monolithic view of EU migrants: intersections of race, class, and gender

The third step in integrating the Labour inequality agenda with intra-EU migration is an appreciation of how EU migrants can be affected by Brexit in terms of class, gender and skin colour. For example, while Western European migrants tend to be depicted as professionals in news coverage, recent research shows that inequalities of economic, cultural and social capital – frequently grounded in inequalities of family background – can affect Western Europeans’ migrations in terms of professional advancement, housing and sense of self-realisation, complicating their social positions in Britain’s stratification system. Earlier studies of Western EU professionals also showed that some of them come from working-class, provincial and/or migrant backgrounds. This scholarship problematises easy assumptions about Western EU migrants as white, middle class, and privileged, but it also forces us to challenge stereotypes about Eastern EU migrants, including their association with social immobility or lower-skilled migration. Inequalities of economic, cultural, and social capital thus create divisions within migrant groups, but these divisions disappear in the popular discourse and its emphasis on East-West divisions.

EU migrants’ access to unequal resources is further complicated by gender inequalities and racism. EU migrant women working part-time and on zero-hour contracts (usually in ‘feminised’ sectors like paid care and cleaning) may be unable to prove their residency rights and to access social benefits, while non-working partners and unpaid carers may find it more difficult to prove their residency status in the application for ‘settled status’. Furthermore, while European migration has long been associated with whiteness, recent studies suggest that black EU migrants are more likely to experience racism and occupational precarity and are thus prevented from accessing different forms of capital.

To sum up, Brexit cannot be fully understood through the lenses of inequalities without considering the context of Britain’s influence as a core country in Europe; the related trends of intra-EU migration from the periphery to core countries such as the UK; the complex intersections of privilege and disadvantage that make intra-European migration fundamentally unequal and Brexit an asymmetrical process for non-UK EU citizens.

This post represents the views of the authors and not those of the Brexit blog, nor LSE. It first appeared at LSE British Politics and Policy.

Lorenza Antonucci is Lecturer and Birmingham Fellow at the School of Social Policy of the University of Birmingham. Lorenza’s research explores the causes and effects of inequality across Europe. She is the author of ‘Student Lives in Crisis‘ (Policy Press, 2016) and tweets at @SocialLore.

Simone Varriale is Lecturer at the School of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Lincoln. Simone’s research explores how inequalities shape patterns and experiences of migration and globalisation. He is the author of ‘Unequal Youth Migrations’ (Sociology, 2019) and ‘Globalization, Music and Cultures of Distinction’ (Palgrave, 2016). He tweets at @franklyMrS.

Forecasting the 2019 General Election using the PM and the Pendulum model

Using a forecasting model that captures both the cyclical nature of the competition for power and the important role of prime ministers in elections, Matthew Lebo and Stephen Fisher estimate that the Conservatives will win between 269 and 356 seats.

Rafael Behr said of 2018’s local election results that “Brexit has caused Britain’s political pendulum to stick.” Maybe the forthcoming general election will get it moving again?

The idea of the political pendulum is that public opinion, and so government, alternates between the two main political parties on a fairly regular basis. Maybe there’s a cost of governing, or maybe voters come to feel it’s time for a change. Whatever the reason, there’s evidence for the political pendulum in many democracies. Most notably, the regularity is very strong in the USA where two terms of a president from one party are typically followed by two terms for the other party. Thus Trump’s victory in 2016 was helped by the pendulum swinging to the Republicans after two-terms of a Democratic president.

The pendulum is not unstoppable though. Leaders can halt it, and they can accelerate or decelerate it. By losing the popular vote Trump did not do as well as the pendulum predicted.

For Britain, Helmut Norpoth and Matthew Lebo’s PM and the Pendulum model has been a successful tool for forecasting elections since 2005. It captures both the cyclical nature of the competition for power and the important role of prime ministers in speeding up or slowing down the pendulum.

Without a fixed length of time between elections in Britain, the pendulum model measures time in elections, however close or far apart. So, terms have varying length in years. How quickly the pendulum swings against a government depends on how big the initial win. What’s more, if a government wins even bigger at subsequent elections they can buy their party more time on the clock. In this model, the scale of Margaret Thatcher’s victories in 1983 and 1987 helped John Major to win in 1992, but Tony Blair did not win big enough in 2005 to give Gordon Brown the advantage going into the 2010 election.

David Cameron’s 7-point leads in 2010 and 2015 were big enough for the pendulum to provide a just under two-point advantage for Theresa May going in to the 2017 election. She narrowly exceeded that expectation. Now, Boris Johnson is trying to deliver a fourth general election victory for the Conservatives in a row. The pendulum alone predicts he will fall short, with a narrow lead for Labour of 0.7 points.

Using Norpoth and Lebo’s vote swing to seats model, a 0.7 Labour lead suggests a hung parliament with 282 Conservative seats and 296 Labour seats. While such a result might well yield a Labour-led government, the historical pattern of the pendulum swing is not strong enough to say that Labour ought to be winning a majority at this election.

Prime ministerial approval and the pendulum together

The PM and the Pendulum model improves on the pendulum only model by also using the popularity of the prime minister as a predictor of election outcomes. This is not to say that summary judgments of the prime minister personally are the only things about public opinion that matter. The economy and other issues have an impact by affecting evaluations of the PM.

Boris Johnson is known by some commentators as the Marmite politician. Some love him, others loath him. Levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with Johnson net out close to zero. But since the PM and pendulum model focuses on the two main parties, it needs a way to account for the number of third-party supporters and how they tend to disapprove of the PM. The model does this by dividing the percentage approval by the proportion of people saying they will vote for one of the two main parties.

One further benefit of this measure is that it also takes account the popularity of the opposition. For instance, in 1997 there were a large number of people intending to vote for the two main parties, but very few approved of John Major. The low adjusted PM approval rating in effect showed quite a lot of support for Blair’s Labour party.

By the adjusted PM approval measure, Boris Johnson goes into this election in one of the strongest positions of any post-war prime minister; popular enough, relative to the two-party vote, to pull the Conservatives ahead. His average rating over September and October in Ipsos MORI polls of 41.5% is strong in an electorate when only 61% say they plan to vote for the Conservatives or Labour. With Johnson’s popularity factored in, the model predicts a 2.4 point Conservative lead over Labour. That suggests the Tories will end up with 311 seats, short of an overall majority but still comfortably ahead of Labour’s expected tally of 268 MPs.

Computer simulations can assess the uncertainty of the PM and pendulum model and show a 90% confidence interval for the Conservatives stretching from 269 to 356 seats. The estimates suggest that Boris Johnson has about a 1 in 4 chance of securing the majority (of 326 seats or more) that he needs to deliver his Brexit deal.

What to make of this forecast?

The vote intention opinion polls suggest the Conservatives are heading towards a comfortable majority. That is true also of the Ipsos MORI polls from which the PM approval data are drawn. So, there is a real discrepancy between the PM and pendulum model forecast and classic vote intention poll forecasts. With such different methods, there is no simple way to decompose the reasons for the difference.

It might seem as though the PM and pendulum model is likely to be wrong because it is too simplistic and also problematic in assuming that British politics still works as it did before the 2014 Scottish independence and 2016 Brexit referendums. Elections are no longer adequately characterised as a contest between just two parties, so why pay attention to a model that presumes just that?

While the model does not make forecasts for third parties, it does take into account the numbers of seats held collectively by the two main parties at the last election. So, in effect, the model assumes that the number of third-party seats is unlikely to change much from what it was in 2017. But since John Curtice has predicted record numbers of third-party seats, there is further reason to worry that the model may not work well this time.

The track record of the PM and pendulum model has been generally good. In 2005 it forecasted a Labour majority and lead of 132 seats over the Tories: the actual outcome a 159 seat lead. In 2010 it predicted a hung parliament with a slight edge for the Conservatives. The 311-265 prediction two months prior to Election Day was close to the eventual result of 307-258.

There is always a temptation for forecasters to tweak their methods to adapt to new political developments. In February 2015, Lebo and Norpoth made an initial forecast of a 7.1% Tory vote lead with 322 Tory seats and 254 Labour seats – spot on for the vote lead and extremely close to the actual 307 Conservative and 258 Labour seats. But with the polls looking bad for the Conservatives and the complication of the first post-war coalition government, the authors made adjustments during the campaign, downgrading the popularity of the Prime Minister. Only later did they realize they would have done better to have left the pendulum model alone.

Under current political circumstances it is hard to trust that the pendulum’s swing is likely to thwart the Tories hope for a fourth term. Growing tired of the party in power is not the only underlying factor in the pendulum’s swing. The party in opposition usually gains standing during its years of opposition. The current unpopularity of Jeremy Corbyn and the fractured opposition to Brexit makes it difficult for some to see what the pendulum should swing back towards.

Whether or not the model forecast is accurate this year, the PM and pendulum model does provide a helpful historical basis on which to judge the performances of the two main parties. If Corbyn does manage to turn things around and win the most seats in a hung parliament, it will only be as expected given the swing of the pendulum would predict. He needs a majority to show a substantial achievement.

But if Boris Johnson secures the comfortable majority that the opinion polls suggest he will, then his achievement, and Jeremy Corbyn’s corresponding failure, will be historically remarkable. The pendulum really will have become stuck.


About the Authors

Matthew Lebo is Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario.




Stephen Fisher is Associate Professor of Political Sociology at Trinity College, University of Oxford.




All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The government’s refusal to release the ‘Russian interference’ report is part of a worrying pattern of obstruction

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has produced a report into Russian interference in UK politics, but it cannot be published without government approval. Andrew Defty explains that Number 10’s failure to release the report before Parliament was dissolved is the latest in a series of government actions that have hindered effective parliamentary scrutiny of the intelligence and security services. Reform to ensure the committee has greater independence from executive obstruction should be considered in the next Parliament.

It is not clear why the government did not feel able to approve the release of the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report into Russian interference in the UK before Parliament was dissolved this week. However, the episode does reveal a worrying potential for the process of intelligence oversight in the UK to become politicised. Government Ministers struggled to provide an adequate response to urgent questions in the House of Commons and the House of Lords in which the Chair of the ISC, Dominic Grieve MP, and a phalanx of those with experience in this field including Lord Anderson of Ipswich and the PM’s former National Security Adviser, Lord Ricketts, asked why the Prime Minister was refusing to approve the release of a report that has apparently been cleared for publication by the intelligence and security agencies.

The Intelligence and Security Committee was reconstituted as a parliamentary committee in 2013. However, in a number of important respects its work remains subject to government approval. In particular while the ISC is free to pursue its own agenda, its reports must be submitted to the Prime Minister and are subject to a process of review before being laid before Parliament and published. In practice this involves a process of negotiation between the committee and intelligence agencies regarding the redaction of sensitive information. This takes place before the reports are sent to the Prime Minister to be signed off for publication, which means that the Prime Minister is simply asked to approve publication of reports that have already been cleared by the intelligence and security agencies. While the process of negotiating redactions can be lengthy, it was revealed this week that final approval by the Prime Minister usually takes no more than ten days. Moreover, the Justice and Security Act 2013 stipulates that the only reason for the exclusion of material from an ISC report is ‘if the Prime Minister, after consultation with the ISC, considers that the matter would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions’ of the intelligence and security agencies.

The ISC’s Russia report was sent to the Prime Minister for approval on 17 October. As Ministers were keen to point out in Parliament this week, this did not leave very long for approval before Parliament was dissolved on 6 November. However, on the final sitting day of the House of Commons the ISC Chair, Dominic Grieve, revealed that the process of negotiating redactions to the report had begun in March and had been completed in early October. The final draft of the report had been agreed by the intelligence and security agencies and the only remaining step was for the Prime Minister to approve publication. Government Ministers insisted that this was a very important and sensitive report which required detailed scrutiny by the Prime Minister before it could be released for publication. However, if the report had been approved by the intelligence and security agencies it is difficult to see what additional objection the Prime Minister could raise to it being laid before Parliament and published. In these circumstances it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Prime Minister was motivated by political rather than security concerns.

This episode represents a low point in relations between the ISC and the government. However, this is not an isolated incident, but is part of a worrying pattern of government obstruction and delay in relation to the work of this important committee. This has been compounded by two general elections in quick succession and is clearly not helped by the prospect of a third. This is not the first time the ISC has expressed concern about the time taken by government to review its reports. It took more than four months to review the committee’s report on lethal drone strikes which was sent back to the committee just six days before the 2017 general election, with the result that the committee was forced to accept all of the proposed redactions in order to ensure the report was published before the election. Similarly, despite a commitment to provide a response to ISC reports within 60 days of publication, the government has routinely missed this target, for example, taking five months to publish a response to the committee’s report on detainee mistreatment and rendition. There are two ISC annual reports to which the government has never provided a response.

The ISC has also been frustrated by an unprecedented lack of cooperation from the government in relation to two of its most recent inquiries. In its inquiry into lethal drone strikes in Syria the committee was denied access to intelligence assessments provided to Ministers which underpinned the decision to authorise the strikes. Similarly, the committee took the decision to wind up early its long-running inquiry into detainee mistreatment and rendition when the government refused to allow it to speak to intelligence agency personnel who may have witnessed mistreatment taking place. These examples raise significant questions about whether the committee is able to carry out its core oversight function.

Finally, the government retains significant control over the process of appointing members of the ISC. A new ISC is appointed following a general election. Although the committee is now appointed by Parliament, unlike Commons select committees, members must first be nominated by the Prime Minister. The length of time taken to provide nominations means that the ISC was one of the final parliamentary committees to be established following the 2015 and 2017 general elections. If the process is similarly delayed following the forthcoming general election it may be well into the next Parliament before the ISC’s Russia report sees the light of day.

Some accommodation of national security concerns is a necessary feature of parliamentary scrutiny of intelligence. While the process of intelligence oversight should, as far as possible, be open and transparent, parliamentary debate and the publication of reports should not undermine national security. However, national security concerns should not be used as a pretext to mask wrongdoing, political embarrassment or awkward truths. The current oversight arrangements in the UK allow the executive a level of control which threatens the independence of the process. One issue that might be considered when Parliament returns, is whether the Prime Minister should have a role at all in approving the published output of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. If the committee is able to negotiate the publication of its findings with the intelligence and security agencies, there seems little justification for requiring Prime Ministerial approval of this process. Whether or not there is anything of consequence in the ISC’s Russia report in relation to the forthcoming general election, this episode has revealed the worrying potential for political interference in the process of intelligence oversight in the UK.


About the Author

The above was first published on Democratic Audit.

Andrew Defty is Associate Professor of Politics at the University of Lincoln. He runs the Watching the Watchers blog at Lincoln University and is co-author, with Hugh Bochel and Jane Kirkpatrick, of Watching the Watchers: Parliament and the Intelligence Services, published by Palgrave.


All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image credit: UK Parliament / Jess Taylor / (CC BY-NC 2.0) licence.

We need to talk about A/B testing: Brexit, attack ads and the election campaign

tristan hothamWith the general election a month away, how are the parties targeting voters on Facebook with messages about Brexit? Tristan Hotham (University of Bath) explains how A/B testing is being used to identify the most effective campaign themes.

Political parties using Facebook ads have a powerful capacity to hone their messages. Unlike in the past – where expensive and hard-to-organise focus groups were the only available space for parties to test their messages – today all the political parties engage in what marketers call A/B testing (aka multivariate testing).

Political parties have never had it so good, as it’s ‘us’ (the users), who help make this happen. Today party campaigning is Janus-faced, and a fantastic example of this is via how the parties are using A/B testing to campaign on Brexit. The focus of messages so far has been personalised, with Brexit often enmeshed in negative attack advertisements featuring opposition leaders. The content is generally targeted at men.

So what is A/B testing?

A/B testing is a method of comparing two or more versions of an advert against each other to determine which one performs better. Depending on what content is used, people will interact differently. Then statistical analysis can be used to examine which variation performs better for a given goal. Give it is such a ubiquitous tool, it is interesting how little academic study has been undertaken into its political use, although some work has outlined the use of testing by activism groups (Karpf, 2018) and in the Trump campaign (Pybus, 2019).

A central approach is via negative campaigning. This uses negative content to attack the opposition, and can lead to a more negative campaign environment, reducing voter turnout and increasing radicalised politics. In the past, negative advertising was much harder to use. Testing messages via focus group was expensive and the chosen messages were then generally sent at the broadcast level. Broadcast approaches meant you had as much chance to put someone off voting for you as pushing someone to stop voting for your opponent, as being associated with negative campaigning could in turn isolate undecided voters and reduce trust. Today, Facebook has allowed parties a safe space to engage in negative messaging, especially content surrounding Brexit and the issues it represents.

So what have the parties been testing?

Liberal Democrats

As seen in the first image, the Liberal Democrats are putting a lot of effort into finding the best line to attack Jeremy Corbyn, especially in the context of Brexit. These adverts are from late October and used the following text:

We must stop Boris Johnson, but Jeremy Corbyn is not fit to be Prime Minister.

Join the Liberal Democrats and demand a brighter future.

The Liberal Democrats do not just stand as a Remain-supporting party, but also use Brexit as a tool to hammer opposition leaders. With the strong rhetoric used, it is interesting to see the party test out so many Brexit-related attack lines on Corbyn. The Liberal Democrats are engaging in both positive and negative campaigns about Brexit on Facebook. In the case of five of these anti-Corbyn adverts, the party is focusing heavily on younger/middle aged men.

Graph 1: Male and female audience demographics for Liberal Democrat Corbyn attack adverts


The Conservatives are also engaging in negative A/B testing centred on Brexit. The second image shows a subset of advert images sent by the Conservatives from 8-13 August 2019. As well as trialling various colours and the use of Corbyn, dozens of adverts show different versions of the Labour leader. Floating arms are seen ‘stuffing the ballot box’ with Remain tickets. All the posts featured this text, which speaks directly to a people versus Parliament narrative:

Politicians like Jeremy Corbyn are only respecting remain votes — and ignoring 17.4 million leave voters. ❌
Add your name now — don’t let him get away with it. ⬇

Again, as seen with the Liberal Democrats, these adverts were heavily aimed at men, as well as over 65-year-old women. The new people vs. parliament Brexit attack line is clearly aimed at over 45-year-old men and over 65-year-old women.

Graph 2: Male and female audience demographics for Conservative Corbyn attack adverts


Labour also consistently uses A/B testing, although most of their examples only test two or three variations on an advert. They prefer to test a few types of adverts multiple times, rather than adjusting message and content. The best example of their negative testing of Brexit is seen in three images linking the NHS to Donald Trump and Brexit (below). These adverts ran from 25-31 October 2019. Unlike the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, these adverts were generally aimed at younger women and men.

The best example so far of Labour covering Brexit as well as engaging in A/B testing is the final image, which details several examples of Labour adverts that pushed for users to sign a petition, and clearly supports their ‘confirmatory referendum’ policy. Almost all the posts seen used this text:

Brexit should not be a choice between the Tories’ bad deal and a disastrous No Deal.
That’s why Labour would put any Brexit deal back to the people to let them decide.
Agree with us? Add your name to our petition ✍

The adverts were sent to all sorts of different demographics, but generally focussed on older women, and balanced younger men and women.


All the parties are engaging in A/B testing of Brexit content, and it is split across uses for improving messages, images and data collection. The parties are admixing Brexit and attack lines on leaders, with these ads testing lines we are likely to see later in the campaign. The question of why negative personalised adverts appear to be focused centrally on men is interesting, and has not been a focus of researchers. This approach, which has been taken by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, may be due to the fact that men voted more heavily for Leave. However, the pushing of negative content towards men is problematic, because the parties appear to be driving a wedge between men and women on an issue that is of equal consequence to all of us.

A/B testing is also being used in a negative way to hyper-charge content designed to demobilise voters. This is a threat to our democracy: negative messages on Brexit that can drive voters towards polarising opinions are becoming more refined. We, as voters, are being compartmentalised, fractured and sold different ideas. The impacts on the foundations of community and the common ground of politics will be stark.


Karpf, David. “Analytic Activism and Its Limitations.” Social Media+ Society 4.1 (2018): 2056305117750718.

Pybus, Jennifer. “Trump, the First Facebook President: Why Politicians Need Our Data Too.” Trump’s Media War. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019. 227-240.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor LSE.

Tristan Hotham is a PhD researcher at the University of Bath. His thesis is titled “Examining the impact and effectiveness of Facebook on party campaigns”.

How economic insecurity encourages political activism and support for the right

Walter Bossert, Andrew E. Clark, Conchita D’Ambrosio, and Anthony Lepinteur explain how insecurity affects political outcomes. Specifically, they find that rather than encouraging a withdrawal from politics, economic insecurity seems to encourage political activism, and in particular support for the right.

Economic insecurity is attracting growing attention in social, academic, and policy circles. It has arguably risen for a number of reasons in recent years: the Great Recession (with its associated job instability), automation and the fear of job loss, the Chinese import shock, and aging populations and migration, amongst others. As well as its obvious implications for family finances and wellbeing, we here ask whether insecurity affects the way in which people vote. Economic insecurity is an alternative explanation of populist preferences to the cultural backlash against progressive values, such as cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism or status threat.

Measuring economic insecurity

Despite its potential central role in economic, political, and social outcomes there is no consensus as to the precise definition of economic insecurity. Previous work has considered insecurity as the change in the unemployment rate, a fall in per capita income or as a change in subjective perceptions. A comprehensive formal definition covering all possible aspects would be extremely challenging, and we propose a simplified approach to calculate an individual-level measure of economic insecurity.

We do so by axiomatically characterizing a class of individual economic-insecurity measures based on movements over time in individual economic resources (such as income). Formally, the class of individual insecurity measures is based on the geometrically-discounted sum of changes in resources over time. The measure respects a set of standard axioms (see Section 2 here for details) and has two key properties. The first is loss-monotonicity: a fall in economic resources increases insecurity, while a rise reduces it. Second, more recent experiences carry greater weight in the determination of insecurity. This individual-level economic-insecurity measure is argued to reflect the confidence with which individuals face potential future economic threats: the more gains they have experienced, and the more recent were these gains, the more confident (and secure) they will be about the future.

We then put our economic-insecurity measure to the test. Does it predict political preferences, and in particular the rise of the right?

Economic insecurity and support for the Conservatives (1995-2008)

The insecurity measure requires repeated observations on individuals and their economic resources. We measure the latter by annual household equivalent income (that is, adjusted for the number of people in the household and considering some economies of scale from of living together), and consider changes in this income over the past five years. In the UK, we have data from one of the best-known long-run panel surveys: the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). The Figure below shows how mean economic insecurity in the UK changed over the life of the BHPS, and how this compares to the national unemployment rate. Perhaps unsurprisingly, economic insecurity tracks unemployment to a certain extent.

Does the individual economic insecurity of the BHPS respondents predict their political preferences? As economic insecurity is correlated with unemployment (as in the figure above) and income, we hold both of these (as well as a number of other variables) constant in a regression analysis. Our question is then whether two individuals of the same sex and age, and with the same education, marital status, labour-force status and income, have different political preferences if their economic-insecurity measures are not the same.

Economic insecurity first predicts greater political participation (the probability of stating support for a named political party). Insecurity does not produce withdrawal from the political process but on the contrary seems to galvanise it.

Who benefits from this greater political engagement? We again carry out a regression analysis (multinomial logit) holding income, unemployment etc. as above constant. In the UK, economic insecurity mainly benefits the Conservatives, with no effect on support for the Labour Party. The figure below illustrates the effects of economic insecurity on political preferences in the UK. Economic insecurity reduces abstention from politics, with the net effect of increased political participation going to the Conservative Party.

Are these effects large enough to be interesting? A one standard-deviation rise in economic insecurity produces a rise in Conservative support and a small fall in Labour support. The gap between the two figures is a little under 1.5%. This may look small, but is not. The figures here refer to the whole UK population. Turnout in the 2017 General Election was just under 70%, so taking our numbers at face value, the effect of insecurity on the gap between Conservative and Labour support in terms of votes is around 2%. The difference in the 2017 popular vote was 2.4% (42.4% for the Conservatives and 40.0% for Labour). Equally, the winning margin in almost 100 constituencies was under 5%.

This insecurity-related rise in support for the Conservatives is stronger for the married and parents; it is also stronger for those below the age of 40 and is more noticeable in the 2000s than in the 1990s.

Economic insecurity is then associated with a net switch to the right in the UK. This association does not reflect unemployment or income (or home-ownership) as these are all held constant in our analyses. And economic insecurity, as we measure it, does a better job of predicting political preferences than a number of other common insecurity measures (which we show in a series of formal statistical tests).

This is not only a British phenomenon. Analysis of German Socio-Economic Panel data between 1989 and 2016 produces similar results: economic insecurity increases the probability of stating support for a political party, and more specifically increases the probability to support the CDU/CSU.

Economic insecurity and the support for Brexit

If economic insecurity predicts greater support for Conservative parties in the UK and Germany over the last 30 years, is it also correlated with the recent rise in populism? We look at the most notable recent political event in the UK: the 2016 referendum. We turn to information from 2017 and 2018 in the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), where respondents were asked “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” This question was then asked over a year after the actual Brexit referendum on June 23rd 2016, but with the exact-same wording as in the actual referendum.

The UKHLS interviews the same individuals every year (as do the BHPS and SOEP datasets above), so that we can look at the individual’s five-year history of changes in equivalent household income. The results mirror those on general political support: one standard deviation higher economic insecurity is associated with a one percentage-point higher probability of stating “Leave the EU”.

Outside of Europe, one notable political event was the 2016 US Presidential election. We again calculate individual-level economic insecurity, using the Understanding American Society survey. The results are in line with those above: a one standard-deviation rise in economic insecurity predicts an increase of 0.68 percentage points in the probability of voting in the election, and predicts greater support for Donald Trump and less support for Hillary Clinton (with no effect for the other candidates).


Our results here are potentially important. It is common to argue that insecurity reduces individual well-being; we here show that it also feeds through to political outcomes. Rather than encouraging a withdrawal from politics, economic insecurity seems to encourage political activism, but of a certain kind: support for the right.


Note: the CEP Discussion Paper on which the above draws is available here.

About the Authors

Walter Bossert is Professor at the University of Montreal.

Andrew E. Clark is Professor at the Paris School of Economics and Visting Professor at the Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

Conchita D’Ambrosio is Professor at the University of Luxembourg.

Anthony Lepinteur is Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Luxembourg.


All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Europe is undergoing a democratic recession

All forms of democracy require renewal and adaptability; envisioning renewal requires an understanding of the complexity of the problem. Europe is undergoing a democratic recession which is at the heart of over a decade of multiple complex crises, Brexit being the latest in a string of setbacks, writes Rosa Balfour (German Marshall Fund).

By ‘democratic recession’ I mean to capture both the transformations brought in by globalisation and the deliberate attempts to empty democratic practices and systems of their salience. The recession reflects the unintended consequences of global trends which are eroding deeply, and in equal ways, European democracies and the legitimacy of the collective system of governance through integration and cooperation in the EU. These can include the impact of technology and the ubiquity of globalisation – the ‘entropy’ of democracy, to use Colin Crouch’s word.

“Entropa” sculpture by David Černý

Recession’ additionally points to the deliberate downgrading of democracy that is taking place in Europe. Globalisation is also driven by the neoliberal design of disempowering the state’s role in the governance of public goods. Under the populist rubric, the notion of majoritarian democracy as reflective of ‘the will of the people’, or even the invention of ‘illiberal democracy’, are becoming smokescreens for not merely for the downgrading of substantive democratic practices, such as the rights of minority voices, but also of basic procedural democratic standards, such as the separation of powers and the checks and balances on executive power.

In the EU several countries have been downgraded by international monitors to electoral democracies, but even the oldest democracies in the world have seen their standards slip. Corruption has significantly eroded good governance and caused attacks on investigative journalism. Austerity, the fight against terrorism, and the fears around the arrivals of migrants and refugees have provided further arguments for curtailing freedom of the press, the activities of the non-profit sectors,  and civil rights. Given the depth of integration between European states, the question of democracy needs to be analysed in conjuncture with the EU system of governance. Much of the debate about citizen disengagement points the finger to the EU institutions as distant and not reflective of citizen concerns. This feeds into the debate over the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’, and prompts the alleged solutions of empowering the European Parliament to decide through its political groupings who should lead the European Commission – the Spitzenkandidaten process – pitting the European Parliament against the member states as the main cleavage in the democratic debate.

Locating the democratic deficit at the European level is, however, misplaced – thus the solutions to address it are unlikely to reach the heart of the matter. The main theatre of democracy takes place at the national level: while decision-making powers have been moved upwards towards the EU level, accountability still passes through national institutions. Together with Europeanisation, some efforts towards devolution have taken place: in EU jargon, subsidiarity is supposed to promote governance at the most appropriate level.

Where decision-making is shared across a multi-level system of government, this democratic recession takes shape in two distinct ways: vertically, in the relationship between supranational, national and local levels of decision-making; and horizontally, where the issues to be addressed and public goods to be managed cut across national borders, the dislocation of policy spaces has broken down the boundaries domestic and international policies.

Governments in the EU have been making decisions on the basis of a ‘permissive consensus’ in favour of integration amongst elites which allowed for a minimum level of deliberation with citizens. The Lisbon Treaty even strengthened the concentration of decision-making in the heads of state and government meeting in the European Council. They were the drivers behind the successive crisis management phases that dominated EU life from the economic impact of the financial crisis in 2008 and ensuing Eurozone crises in Europe’s periphery, through the security crisis with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the refugee influx. With the politicisation of the issues decided at the EU level, especially since the start of the crises, this permissive consensus broke down.

However benign EU integration is with respect to representation and accountability, the process of Europeanisation does question the relationship between member states, where the most substantive expression of representative democracy takes place, and the EU. Yet the most serious erosion of democracy has taken place at the national level, not uniformly across the European continent (which remains home to some of the most advanced democracies in the world). National institutions have been hollowed out. In many countries, national parliaments are weak in scrutinising EU legislation. And in crisis-ridden times, with weak coalitions in charge, governments have often resorted to governing by confidence vote.

Political parties hold responsibility for emptying the space for democratic debate. Voter participation has been in decline for decades, the end of ideology and the sameness of the traditional parties has emptied the centre-ground. Political parties are not playing their vital role as vehicles for debate and representation between society and their institutions. Nor are they playing a role in bringing European debates to national publics. As Peter Mair pointed out, citizens have been retreating from politics as much as parties have been evacuating their zone of engagement. The void has been easily occupied by a variety of populist parties and movements or by formerly mainstream parties captured by populist minorities. Their successes have morphed populism and its majoritarian democracy into an illiberal far right threatening democracy altogether.

At the local level, Europeanisation has been corresponded with efforts at strengthening federal and local powers through decentralisation and subsidiarity. These have been unevenly successful. While this has led to new dynamics, especially when urban areas have been empowered to manage their affairs, the transfer of powers to local authorities has been hampered by austerity and budget cuts from national to the local level, disempowering subnational administrations from delivery of services. The transfers of power upwards has not been matched by significant enough powers downwards. Rising tensions between levels of governance are visible across Europe, especially in Spain and the UK.

Horizontally, the spaces for decision-making have been transformed by globalisation and Europeanisation: the impact of policy choices is not coterminous with legitimate decision-making as public goods less and less are contained by national borders. Decision-making is dislocated across several interconnected spaces. Most policies now have a transnational dimension which also goes beyond the EU itself – migration, climate change are some of the obvious examples. For instance, housing policy, education, welfare are policies which are often managed at the local levels, but migration control, which has an impact on housing needs, is increasingly considered a foreign policy to be delegated to third states, in light of the inability of the EU and its member states to reform its immigration and integration policies.

Managing the complexity of contemporary policy requires joinedup decision making on transnational issues of pan-European concern. But these arguments and attempts are undermined by the inability of the political organisations to adapt the democratic discussion to such multi-level governance, of which Europe and the EU is the most advanced example world-wide. Who decides? Who is legitimated to decide? Who is accountable? Increasingly, policy-shaping involves a multitude of actors working at different levels, which include EU, national, subnational institutions, but also the private sector, NGOs, citizens associations. Decision-shaping and implementation is becoming more complex, but the democratic decision-making process has not adapted much to account for such complexity.

The EU is ideally placed to manage complex policy challenges and to seek compromises between technocracy and nationalism. The multi-level institutions and structures that comprise the EU can provide the spaces in which participative politics take place, bringing together transnational networks, civil society organisations, and community initiatives with local, regional, national and EU government. Focusing on specific issues close to citizens, such as the management of public goods, rather than generic questions about democracy, can endow new life and meaning to political participation, providing a new basis both for a renewal of European democracy and of the European project.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor the LSE. “The future of European democracy” series is part of an on-going collaboration between the Visions of Europe project at the London School of Economics and the Europe’s Futures programme at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna. Image by VitVit,  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Dr Rosa Balfour is a Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the US. In September 2018 she was awarded a non-resident fellowship on Europe’s Futures at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. Rosa is also a member of the Steering Committee of WIIS-Brussels (Women In International Security), an Associate Fellow at LSE Ideas, and a Senior Adviser to the European Policy Centre.

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