Denis MacShane

Denis MacShane is the former British minister for Europe and first used the word Brexit in 2012. He writes on European policy and politics. 

Recent Articles

What You Need to Know about Brexit

Can Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn find their way to a solution?

Jack Taylor/Pool Photo via AP
Q. Why Can’t the House of Commons Agree on a Brexit Policy? A. In the House of Commons there is always a majority against any proposal on Brexit, but never a majority for a solution. The British political system is binary and adversarial with no tradition of coalition, power-sharing or good relations between the governing party and the opposition, except during the two World Wars. Thus party loyalty tends to have primacy. If May proposes something, Labour and Liberal vote against. If Labour proposes something, Conservatives vote against. Q. Is there a chance to avoid a No-Deal Brexit on April 12? A. Only if May is willing to compromise. So far she has refused to move one millimeter towards other parties in the House of Commons – Labour, Liberal-Democrats, or Scottish Nationalists. She insists her proposals, which have been rejected three times in the Commons by big majorities, cannot be changed. There have been talks between Labour and the Government and May and Corbyn...

The Brexit Revolution Devours Its Children

Theresa May is only the latest career politician to be consumed by the Brexit disaster. 

If ever the statement that "Revolutions devour their children" applied to British politics it does so now. Brexit has devoured its father—David Cameron—and now its daughter Theresa May—as both prime ministers retreat from public life and office destroyed by their own party’s pathological hate of European partnership. In 1948 Winston Churchill declared: “We hope to see a Europe where men of every country will think as much of being a European as of belonging to their own native land, and that without losing any of their love and loyalty of their birthplace. We hope wherever they go they will truly feel ‘Here I am at home. I am a citizen of this country too.’” A decade earlier in the London mass-selling News of the World in 1938, Churchill said Britain should promote “every practical step which the nations of Europe may take to reduce the barriers which divide them and to nourish their common interests and their common welfare...

Macron’s Cheek: Daring to Tell Brexit Nationalists They Are Wrong

In a scathing open letter, the French president called on Europeans to unite against the rising tide of populist nationalism. 

It is quite the most extraordinary interference seen in European politics since Winston Churchill repeatedly told continental European between 1945 and 1951 to unite and get their act together to create what he called a “European Union” to prevent forever the two world wars Europe had been plunged into in the first half of the 20th century. Clement Attlee’s postwar Labour government rejected Churchill’s appeal and treated with scorn the idea of cooperating economically by placing steel and coal industries under joint European control with guarantees that coal and steelworkers would have a central role in how their industries would be run. Now France’s President Macron has sent an unprecedented move has sent an open letter to most EU citizens via newspapers in all EU member states. Not even General de Gaulle had what the French call the culot— the barefaced cheek—to tell every other European nation what needs to happen. Of course the Macron-...

The Brexit Swivel

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn pirouette as British politicians show themselves unable to handle Brexit. 

Theresa May has built-in swivels in the heels of her colorful kitten shoes she adores wearing. Jeremy Corbyn is far less a fashionista but he too knows how to pirouette and change tack in Britain’s endless Brexit ballet. More than 70 times since she became prime minister, May has told the House of Commons, TV interviewers and all journalists who ask that under all circumstances Britain would be leaving the EU on March 29 this year. Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn has kept a steady distance from the idea of Labour endorsing a new referendum on Britain 's departure from Europe. This despite clear opinion poll majorities against leaving the EU and growing evidence of criminal corruption involving financing from dark forces in rightist American circles and the Kremlin the 2016 plebiscite. Instead the Labor leader has insisted on the need for a new general election, in which then a Labour-led renegotiation would still keep Britain out of the EU but via some alchemy create what he has...

Labour’s Turn to Come Apart

As the acid of Brexit dissolves politics, Theresa May’s hopes of winning a majority for her deal gets much harder. 

As the questions of Ireland and free trade divided British political parties in the 19th century, in the last 50 years the great source of division has been Europe, Europe, Europe. The announcement by seven Labour MPs opposed to leaving the European Union they would form an independent group in the House of Commons is the latest sign of the inability of the political class to address the Europe conundrum. Their decision all but destroys Prime Minister May’s hopes of getting Labour MPs to cross the floor to back her unworkable deal, which only plunges the U.K. into years of “Brexeternity” trying to negotiate a new relationship with endless divisions in the Commons going into the 2020s. Labour MPs who might wish to back May will not want to face the accusation of aiding and abetting the Tories as the tsunami of hate and insults starts to fall upon their seven colleagues whose departure seriously damages Labour. For Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, it is all déja vu...