Denis MacShane

Denis MacShane was a Labour MP for Rotherham from 1994 to 2012, and was Minister for Europe in Tony Blair's government. His 2015 book predicted the vote for British exit from the E.U. and his new book is Brexit No Exit: Why (in the End) Britain Won’t Leave Europe.

Recent Articles

Another Ominous Transition in Europe

With the impending departure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the continent’s fragmentation intensifies.

(Kay Nietfeld/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)
(Kay Nietfeld/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images) German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Ukraine on November 1, 2018 T he most famous geopolitical cartoon the London weekly Punch ever published was called “Dropping the pilot,” showing a weary Otto von Bismarck coming down the gangplank of a ship called Germany in 1890 after 28 years as chancellor. Angela Merkel has done only 13 years as her nation’s leader, though see seems like an institution. Now she is stepping down as leader of her Christian Democratic Party. Her departure marks a turning point in German and European history. She stays on as chancellor until the end of her term in 2021, and there has been talk in Brussels and Berlin of her moving to be president of the European Commission—the executive bureaucracy of the European Union, or the European Council on which sit all the heads of Europe’s government, soon to be minus Britain. The German horse cannot be ridden by two masters, and once her successor is installed in December,...

Brexit Panic as Brits Run Out of Toilet Paper

As Brexit nears, Economic Britain moans but does not mobilize, complains but does not campaign.

(Press Association via AP Images)
(Press Association via AP Images) Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement in the House of Commons on October 22, 2018. T here is palpable sense of panic slowly developing in London. Each Brit consumes 110 toilet rolls a year—two and half time the European average. The United Kingdom is Europe’s biggest importer of loo paper and it is said that only one day’s supply of toilet paper exists in stock. If Britain leaves the EU Customs Union and Single Market in five months’ time and the trucks transporting toilet paper are held up at Calais or Dover, British bottoms will have to be wiped with torn-up newspapers as in bygone days. Some 1,300 trucks carrying goods from the continent arrive every day just for the giant German-owned low-cost supermarket chain Lidl. Airbus imports a million components on a just-in-time basis, as do all U.K. automobile manufacturers. Britain’s economy is now completely integrated in terms of supply and transport into the rest of Europe. There are no more...

German Lessons for Great Britain on European Workers

It is not too late for the United Kingdom to learn from other EU member-states that with stricter labor market rules and better job training, there is nothing to fear from immigration.

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(zz/KGC-375/STAR MAX/IPx via AP Images) German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May on July 10, 2018 O ne of the knottiest problems for British politicians struggling with Brexit is their insistence, as much by Labour as by the Conservatives, that Britain has to set up a giant new immigration bureaucracy to issue work and residence permits for any European citizen who is offered a job in Britain. Undoubtedly, the main factor in swinging the Brexit vote was that it gave white English men and women their chance to vote against immigrants. Fifty years ago, a racist but very senior Tory politician, Enoch Powell, said Britain was “mad, literally mad, as a nation” to allow immigrants into the country. Powellism sunk deep roots very fast, even if it was repudiated by the party leaders of the day. Powell was also hostile to Britain joining the European Community. That fusion of two English phobias—against immigration and against Europe—never went away. After 2000,...

The British Political Crisis Deepens

What happens next, as neither major political party can find a Brexit position that reflects what most Britons want?

(Press Association via AP Images)
(Press Association via AP Images) Prime Minister Theresa May on July 9, 2018, in the House of Commons B ritish politics from 1850 to 1920 was devoured by the Irish question. It split parties. Destroyed careers. Lost Britain support in America. Diverted political energy from reform and modernisation to political identity and culture wars. Historians will record that British politics of 1950 to 2020 was increasingly consumed by the Europe question. It is reaching some kind of climax with the resignation of two senior Conservative ministers, the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and David Davis, the Brexit minister. Other ministers have resigned. Others are likely to follow. The prime minister, Theresa May, was jeered in the House of Commons when she made a statement on the resignations. She is losing authority by the day. She faces a leader of the Labour opposition who is utterly lost on Europe, unable to take advantage of the governing party’s disarray. Both parties are divided. MPs...

From Here to Brexiternity: The Crisis in British Politics

Press Association via AP Images Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the House of Commons regarding the government's Brexit strategy B ritish politics in early March has been a tale of four prime ministers—two former ones, the present holder of the office, and one who would like to take over. Never in British history has there been such discordance between the past, present, and possibly future occupants of Downing Street. Last Friday, Theresa May made her long awaited speech to define once and for all Britain’s relationship with Europe, with Ireland and her own relationship with an uncompromising anti-European isolationist right-wing. She said very little. Her speech was an mainly outreach to the English who voted “No” to Europe, not an effort to find common ground with a European Union that longs for some sign the U.K. might turn its back on the politics of close to amputational rupture. May did not explain that the EU is what the Germans call a Rechtsgemeinschaft —a community of...

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