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2018

 

4 September 2018

     Lord Peter Lilley
No deal Brexit will work..
says Lord Peter Lilley, former Conservative cabinet minister and outspoken supporter of the UK’s exit from the European Union. He outlined his arguments to the AEJ UK’s first autumn lunch meeting on September 4 in a presentation he described as intentionally provocative. It came as the UK government faced make or break negotiations with the EU on their future relationship and widespread criticism of its Chequers negotiating plan both inside Parliament and across the UK. Peter Lilley says the Chequers plan is “moribund” and adds that the May government looks like it needs lessons in trade negotiating and is giving lessons in political suicide. Most important, says Lilley, is what the UK does with the powers it takes back with Brexit. Ultimately he says Brexit is a political issue and urged people not to exaggerate the importance of trade deals. For more on his presentation please see this report on the meeting from AEJ member and former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio transcript of the meeting.

 

25 June 2018

     Paul Lever
Germany and the EU
Both supporters and opponents of Brexit  might want to consider their expectations of Germany’s role in the process. That was NOT the message to the AEJ UK from Britain’s former ambassador to Germany - but it was inherent in his wide ranging and in depth analysis of Germany’s role in Europe. Sir Paul Lever, UK ambassador to Germany from 1997 to 2003 and author of a recent book on the subject, says despite becoming Europe’s dominant power, Germany has limited policy ambitions and no blueprint for Europe’s future. At the AEJ UK on June 25, Sir Paul said Germany’s key  goals are supporting its national interests and economic strength while preserving what has already been achieved in Europe. So it is unlikely to show any appetite for grand EU integration plans as suggested by France's President Emmanuel Macron - and has already shown constraints on any support for adjustments to the EU’s trading relations with Britain under both UK Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May. For more on Sir Paul’s wide ranging and in-depth analysis please see this report by AEJ member and former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio transcript of his remarks and following discussion.

 

24 May 2018

      Baroness Dianne Hayter of Kentish Town
Labour’s balancing act
As Brexit continues to divide both of the UK’s two major political parties and the British people, Labour’s shadow deputy leader in the House of Lords and spokesperson for exiting the EU walked the fine line between Labour’s stance on Brexit and political realities. At a meeting of the AEJ UK on 24 May 2018, Baroness Dianne Hayter of Kentish Town explained why she and other Labour members of the unelected House of Lords had challenged the UK government by forcing a series of amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill in the upper house. She says Labour is attempting to move Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May away from her hard red lines in negotiations with the EU and believes the final decisions on Brexit should be in the hands of MPs in the House of Commons. She also thinks that the Lords votes for 15 amendments to the government’s withdrawal bill may influence public opinion and debate on the kind of Brexit that will eventually happen. She acknowledged there was no clear evidence of a shift in public support or opposition to Brexit in most polling results since the referendum, including Labour’s own private polling and her own contacts with voters. There is however a recent analysis of multiple polls by the YouGov polling organization that questions this orthodoxy and suggests some possibly important shifts away from Brexit. Baroness Hayter was walking her own fine line inside Labour as a former strong supporter of Tony Blair now articulating a position under EU-sceptic party leader Jeremy Corbyn. She personally opposed Brexit and considers it a looming nightmare, but insists that the Labour party will honour the result of the June 2016 referendum. Baroness Hayter was Labour Party chairman from 2007-8, became a Labour peer in 2010, and previously held senior posts in the legal, financial and consumer affairs industries. For more on this meeting please see this article by AEJ member Nick Hopkinson and this audio transcript of her remarks and following discussion.

 

19 April 2018

      Dr. Yu Jie
China and the world
AEJ UK members received some wide-ranging insight into Chinese thinking at a meeting on April 19 2018. Dr Yu Jie, head of China Foresight at the London School of Economics foreign policy think tank, said President Xi Jing Ping’s immediate plans are to eliminate factions inside the Chinese Communist Party and establish China as a global power. Yu Jie has advised Chinese state-owned companies on European investment and leading European firms seeking to forge strategies for the Chinese market. For more on her thoughts please see this report from AEJ member and former FT correspondent Peter Norman and here for an audio transcript of her remarks.

23 March 2018

      David Isaac
Will Brexit damage human rights in the UK?
The chairman of the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission says it could if the government’s Brexit withdrawal bill is not changed. At the AEJ UK on 23 March 2018, David Isaac explained the basis for his concern – backed by a number of NGOs working on human rights in the UK – that plans for incorporating European into English (and Scottish and Northern Ireland) law did not live up to the government’s promise that Brexit would leave our rights unchanged. Please see this account from Hugh Sandeman and here for an audio transcript of the meeting.

20 February 2018

      Bob Bischof
German business on Brexit
There will be a Brexit deal says the leading voice of German business in the UK. Bob Bischof, vice president of the German British Chamber of Industry and Commerce and chairman of the German British Forum, said German business is confident of a Brexit deal and made his case at an AEJ UK meeting on February 20 2018. See here for a report on the meeting from AEJ member and former FT correspondent Peter Norman. And here for an audio transcript of his remarks and subsequent questions and answers.

 

17 January 2018

      Sergei Guriev
Democracy and Populism

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s chief economist says populist government benefits corrupt elites. And Sergei Guriev, linking the rise of nationalist populism in western countries with “reform reversal” in some post-communist countries, argues that populist governments remove political checks and do not create free markets and democracy whereas states which consolidate democracy do well. He was speaking at the AEJ’s first meeting of 2018 on January 17 about the political economy of reform in Europe and its neighbourhood. Dr. Guriev is a former senior Russian economic policy advisor now in exile and working for the EBRD. His bank’s Transition 2017-18 report shows economic performance in many parts of the former Soviet Union has fallen behind other global emerging markets because of excessive state controls and weak corporate governance. His remarks before he went off the record are here – and they prompted these personal reflections from AEJ member Anthony Robinson, a former east Europe editor of the Financial Times.
 

 

 

2017

 

9 November 2017

      Lord Andrew Adonis
Stopping
Brexit
Lord Andrew Adonis says it’s time to stop Brexit. And 7 weeks after outlining concerns to the AEJ, he underlined them in Christmas week by resigning as infrastructure tsar for the Conservative government of Theresa May. At an AEJ-UK lunch meeting on Nov. 9 2017, the Labour peer and former Labour minister for education and for transport offered even odds on reversing the current political process to exit the European Union. Speaking while he was still chair of the UK Infrastructure Commission, Lord Adonis said the next 18 months are crucial. For more on his analysis to the AEJ-UK please see this report from AEJ  member and former FT correspondent Peter Norman.

 

12 October 2017

      Paddy Ashdown, former Liberal Democrat
Leader
Brexit will not happen…
says Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats and now the party’s leading elder statesman.  As recently as July 2017, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon – Liberal Democrat leader from 1988 to 1999 and a bitter opponent of Brexit – expected Brexit to take place.  But he has changed his mind and thinks Brexit will not happen.  Speaking to the AEJ’s lunchtime meeting on 12 October 2017, he painted a grim picture of a dysfunctional UK government that is incapable of negotiating a satisfactory withdrawal from the EU and which could collapse next year. By a narrow margin, he believes Britain will stay in the EU but retreat from an active international role and lose global influence. Drawing on his many and varied experiences as a Royal Marine, intelligence officer, diplomat, politician and international administrator, Lord Ashdown also commented on a range of international issues in this “most dangerous, volatile and frightening age” of his lifetime. Please see this summary of his remarks from AEJ member and former FT correspondent Peter Norman.

 

15 September 2017

      Lord John Kerr of Kinlochard
Article 50 can be stopped or revoked
The author of Article 50, Lord John Kerr of Kinlochard, says negotiators for both the UK and the EU have made fundamental mistakes and become mired in public disagreements. And he warned of a “precipice” in the UK’s relations with the EU if the talks end without agreement. At a meeting of the AEJ UK on September 15 2017 he also said there is nothing in the law to prevent the UK from changing its mind and stopping or revoking the process of UK exit from the EU. It’s by no means the first time he’s said this but at the AEJ UK meeting he spelled out his analysis of the Brexit process in forensic detail. A former head of the UK Foreign Office and a cross-bench (independent) peer since 2004, Lord Kerr has emerged as a severe critic of the UK government’s approach to Brexit. He has called for a halt to the Brexit process and a national debate in the UK to think again about leaving the EU, previously describing the UK government’s actions since the referendum as “a completely wasted year while the Tories negotiated with themselves”. See this detailed report by AEJ UK chairman William Horsley and an audio recording of the meeting.
Known in Brussels as a wily and effective negotiator, Lord Kerr held senior posts in the UK Treasury as well as the Foreign Office. He was UK ambassador to the EU and the U.S. before taking the top Foreign Office job in 1997. In 2002/3, after retiring as a UK diplomat, he was secretary general to the European Convention, where he drafted the EU exit clause that became Article 50. For more on his recent positions please see:
http://www.politico.eu/article/brexit-article-50-lord-kerr-john-kerr/

http://www.politico.eu/article/brexit-john-kerr-uk-eu-have-both-made-blunders-says-article-50-author/

15 June 2017

      Thomas Rid
Professor in Security Studies at the War Studies Department of Kings College London. He spoke off the record about disinformation attacks by nations. For more you can see his blog.

 

23 May 2017

      Jan  Halper-Hayes
A member of the Donald Trump presidential transition team and former  UK chairman and worldwide vice president of  Republicans Overseas provided an off the record report of recent Republican party policy meetings in Washington.

 

6 April 2017

      Dominique Moisi
Just two weeks before the first round of the 2017 French presidential elections the veteran political scientist and columnist said it was the most unpredictable and most important election he could remember in a lifetime of observing and analysing French politics and international affairs. And, he added, if Brexit is likely to damage the EU then a victory for Marine le Pen and her far-right Front National would have been far worse. On top of the “anger, fear and nostalgia” that has fuelled the last year’s two major political shocks – the UK Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election - France had two additional unpredictable elements – high levels of voters who were undecided and others who were expected to abstain from voting. For more on Moisi’s outline of the state of the French politics please see this report from AEJ member Quentin Peel, this audio transcript of Moisi’s presentation and following questions and answers, and Moisi’s own recent article.

 

13 March 2017

      Jim O’Neill
Donald Trump’s advisers are “stuck in the dark ages” and the UK government of Theresa May has yet to “get real” about Brexit says the man dubbed the high priest of globalisation. Jim O’Neill is the former chief economist of Goldman Sachs who coined the term BRICs in 2001 for the rising economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China; a former Treasury minister in David Cameron’s Conservative government; and one of the world’s pre-eminent proponents of globalisation. He says the populist politics of Brexit and Donald Trump are hostile to further growth and out of sync with world economic trends. Despite much of the political rhetoric surrounding both Trump and Brexit - and from other political leaders - he says world economic growth is not slowing, noting that in this decade it is in line with performance in the 1980s and 1990 and “not as weak as often perceived” by western leaders. For more on his nuanced and informed briefing to the AEJ UK on March 13 please see this report on the meeting from AEJ member and former FT correspondent Peter Norman; and here for an audio transcript of Lord O’Neill’s remarks and following questions and answers. And for more of his comments on Brexit see this report on Politico.
On the wider issue of globalisation, Lord O’Neill of Gatley has recently been arguing in articles and on a BBC radio series for a re-examination and urging business leaders to address issues which have left vast numbers of industrial workers and regions in the western world reeling and disaffected.

 

15 February 2017

      Vernon Bogdanor
One of Britain’s foremost constitutional experts says last year’s referendum vote for Brexit shows that Britain is a totally different country from its continental neighbours. Vernon Bogdanor, a historian and constitutional adviser to a number of governments around the world, explains the vote as the result of a long-simmering cultural revolt. In a wide ranging interpretation of the Brexit vote and its ramifications Prof. Bogdanor also said that it endangers stability in Northern Ireland; Leave voters are likely to suffer most from the consequences of Brexit; current political leaders in England are deceived about the deal they can reach; and there is still a possibility that the Brexit process can be aborted. For more on this meeting of the AEJ UK on Feb.15, please see this report from AEJ UK Chairman William Horsley. Prof. Bogdanor is research professor at the Institute for Contemporary British History at King’s College London, and former professor of government at Oxford University and senior tutor and vice-principal at Brasenose College. He was awarded a CBE for services to constitutional history in 1998 and is a Fellow of the British Academy.

 

27 January 2017

     General Sir Richard Barrons
Recently retired head of UK Joint Forces Command and one of Britain’s most respected and formerly highest ranking soldiers. At the AEJ UK’s first meeting of 2017 he asked are we safe? In the UK this has not really been a major question – political or military - for the last 25 years. But it’s high time to re-think that said Sir Richard. He argued that we need a major strategic revamp and new vision in a striking analysis of the strategic gaps and weaknesses in UK and European defences and what he saw as profound failures of strategic decision-making in recent years. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election in the USA, the Brexit vote in the UK, and further political backlash to be expected in other European countries, he provided a military analysis of a world where Russia and China have already updated their strategy to combine rapid strike capabilities with cyber warfare. A strategy to protect their own territory and control nearby foreign space, and to use cyber attacks and psychological means to disrupt potential adversaries. A strategy that can be seen militarily in Russian actions on its own borders and China’s buildup in the South China Sea, digitally in alleged Russian interference in the recent U.S. election of Donald Trump and multiple suspected Chinese cyber attacks against western corporations, and politically in Russian antagonism to NATO and the EU and China’s stance in southeast Asia. It’s also a more volatile world where even the so-called new leader of the free world Donald Trump could represent a potential threat to peace - in these reports from the AEJ meeting in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald and the UK’s Independent newspaper.
Sir Richard acknowledged his analysis has found no consensus yet in top UK or European military or political circles. But he did believe some key Trump cabinet members who were friends and colleagues from Iraq and Afghanistan – Defence Secretary General James Mattis and Head of Homeland Security retired Major-General John Kelly – understand the strategic challenge.
Here is a full audio transcript of Sir Richard’s analysis with the questions and answers afterwards. And for photos please see our Facebook page

 

 

2016

 

 29 November 2016

Alex Salmond

Former First Minister of Scotland  and Scottish National Party spokesman on international affairs and Europe in the UK Parliament. Along with two of his fellow SNP MPs, Salmond provided a preview of his party’s plans regarding Brexit at one of the most remarkable meetings of the year. For more on SNP post-Brexit plans see here and for more on this enlightening – and entertaining – meeting  please see these notes from AEJ members David Lennon and Rick Thompson.

 

8 November 2016

Mehmet Öğütçü

Former Turkish diplomat, OECD executive and now chairman of Global Resources Partnership, a London-based international consultancy. Mr. Öğütçü provided a detailed and well-informed briefing on Turkey in the wake of an apparent coup on July 15 and subsequent purge and crackdown on opponents of Prime Minister Erdogan. For more on this well attended and enlightening meeting please see this account from AEJ member Nevsal Hughes.

19 September 2016

Alexander Stubb

Former prime minister, finance minister, and leader of Finland’s centre-right National Coalition Party. A long-time and experienced EU insider in multiple trade and diplomatic roles, Stubb has his own suggestions for “soft Brexit” to offset the damage to European stability and liberal values. William Horsley outlines them in these notes. Before stepping down as finance minister and party leader, Stubb served Finland as trade and Europe Minister, foreign minister, MEP and as an adviser to EU Commission President Romano Prodi.

 

5 September 2016

Sir Simon Fraser

Retired permanent under-secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, trade negotiator, and now managing partner at business consultancy Flint Global. For more on his insider’s view on the details, complications and issues of Brexit see this blog by AEJ member Jonathan Fryer and this report by BBC News.

14 July 2016

Axelle Lemaire
Minister for Digital Affairs in the French Ministry for the Economy and Industry since April 2014. UK chairman William Horsley made
these notes of the meeting.

6 May 2016

Dan Mulhall

Ambassador of Ireland to Great Britain

www.dfa.ie

15 April 2016

Lord Norman Lamont

UK government Trade Envoy for Iran and former Chancellor of the Exchequer

www.aej-uk.org/lamont.pdf

26 February 2016

Dr Gerard Lyons

Chief Economic Adviser to the Mayor of London

www.london.gov.uk

 

29 January 2016

Maurice Frankel

Director, Campaign for Freedom of Information

cfoi.org.uk

 

2015

 

4 December 2015

David McAllister MEP

Chancellor Merkel’s special envoy for relations with the UK

See Jonathan Fryer’s Germany wants Britain in the EU and Laurence Peter’s Germany warns UK on rules for EU migrants for BBC News

    politco.eu

 

2 November 2015

Dominic Grieve QC MP

Chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee; Attorney General 2010-14

See Laurence Peter’s report for BBC News

www.parliament.uk

6 October 2015

Eugenio Ambrosi

European Regional Head of the International Organisation for Migration

See Laurence Peter’s report for BBC News

eea.iom.int

10 July 2015

Richard Howitt MEP

Member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee

eurolabour.org.uk

Jonathan Fryer’s blog

26 May 2015

Dr Igor Sutyagin

RUSI research fellow, exiled Russian expert on arms control

rusi.org

17 April 2015

Richard Barrett

Adviser on counter-terrorism measures, formerly in the UK security service

rusi.org

24 March 2015

Lord (Mark) Malloch-Brown

Former Deputy UN Secretary-General and Minister at the FCO

wikipedia.org

3 March 2015

Pat McFadden MP

Shadow Minister for Europe
patmcfadden.com

 

30 January 2015

Robert Tombs

Professor of Modern European History, Cambridge University

Professor Tombs wrote about his new book, The English and Their History, in the Irish Times late last year. For his biography, see history.cam.ac.uk

2014

 

9 December 2014

HE Dr Peter Ammon

Germany's Ambassador to the UK

www.london.diplo.de

3 October 2014

Lord (Anthony) Lester QC

Constitutional and human rights lawyer, LibDem member of the House of Lords

blackstonechambers.com

8 September 2014

Fawaz A Gerges

Professor of International Relations at LSE, author and specialist in Middle East affairs

fgerges.net

4 July 2014

Margaret Macmillan

Professor of International History at Oxford University, Warden of St Anthony's College, author of The War that Ended Peace

margaretmacmillan.com

20 June 2014

Anne Applebaum

Author, journalist and sovietologist

anneapplebaum.com

14 March 2014

EP election special

Simon Hix

Professor of European and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics

poll analysis; lse.ac.uk; pollwatch2014.eu; EP voting generally

Derk Jan Eppink

Retiring Conservatives and Reformists Group MEP for Brussels

djeppink.eu (MEP 2009-2014)

 

21 February 2014

Dr Ian Brown

Associate Director, Cyber Security Centre Oxford University

Précis of Dr Brown's talk (PowerPoint)

27 January 2014

Gus Hosein

Executive Director of Privacy International

See Jonathan Fryer's blog

 

 

 

 

 

Guests of the AEJ UK Section, 1968-2013

HE Mr Yiğit Alpogan

Christopher Andrew

Lord (Paddy) Ashdown

Jacques Attali

HE Giorgi Badridze

Muhammad Abdul Bari

William D Barnard

Lord (Nicholas) Bethel

Fatih Birol

Sir Michael Bishop

Emma Bonino

HE Mr Georg Boomgaarden

Lord Boston

Sharon Bowles

Sir Nicolas Bratza

Lord (Leon) Brittan

HE Mr José Maurício Bustani

Stephen Byers

Mark Byford

Sir Menzies Campbell

HE Mr Staffan Carlsson

Lord Carrington

Lord (Alex) Carlile

Carles Casajuana i Palet

Michael Cassidy

HE Ünal Çeviköz

Shami Chakrabarti

Kenneth Clarke

Lord (Stanley) Clinton Davis

Lord Cockfield

David Coleridge

Lord (Paul) Condon

Michael Connarty

Robin Cook

Richard Corbett

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles

Lord (Ralf) Dahrendorf

Howard Davies

Peter Duncan

Spyros Economides

John Edmonds

Bill Emmott

 

 

Michael Fallon

Matthew Fell

Caroline Flint

Franco Frattini

Declan Ganley

Sir Timothy Garden

Lord (Tristan) Garel-Jones

Bruce George

Sir Edward George

Misha Glenny

HE M Maurice Gourdault-Montagne

Michael Grade

Christopher Graham

Pauline Green

Sir Jeremy Greenstock

Gérard Grunberg

HE Ivan Grdešić

Lord Guthrie

Stelios Haji-Ioannou

Peter Hain

Andrew Haldane

Lord (David) Hannay

Daniel Hannan

Miklós Haraszti

Lord Haskins

Lord (Roy) Hattersley

Geoff Hoon

Sir Edward Heath

Sir Denys Henderson

Peter Hennessy

Lord (Michael) Heseltine

Lord (David) Howell

Lord (Douglas) Hurd

Wolfgang Ischinger

Sir Francis Jacobs QC

Lord (Roy) Jenkins

Christopher Johnson

Eva Joly

Jack Jones

DeAnne Julius

Sir Gerald Kaufman

Lord (John) Kerr

 

 

Lord (Neil) Kinnock

Jimmy Knapp

Miroslav Kolatek

Lord (John) Krebs

Chandrashekhar Krishnan

Richard Lambert

Ruth Lea

Lord Kingsdown (Robin Leigh-Pemberton)

Jean Lemierre

David Lewis

David Lidington

Lord Mackay of Clashfern

Monica Macovei

David Marsh

Edward McMillan-Scott

Josef Matějka

Dame Judith Mayhew

Lord (Andrew) McIntosh

Lord (Peter) Melchett

Patrick Mercer

Sir Christopher Meyer

John Monks

Sir Alastair Morton

Jon Moulton

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi

Ma'ajid Nawaz

Lady Pauline Neville-Jones

Archie Norman

Sir Gus O'Donnell

Michael O’Flaherty

Dick Oosting

Ambassador Marc Otte

Lord (David) Owen

Ricardo Pascual Bremon

Friedbert Pflüger

Lord (Henry) Plumb

Sir Charles Powell

Lady Joyce Quin

Bill Rammell

John Redwood

Jacques Reland

 

 

Emma Reynolds

Lord (Ivor) Richard

Sir Malcolm Rifkind

Lord (George) Robertson

James Rubin

Jago Russell

Sir Iqbal Sacranie

Derek Scott

Anthony Seldon

Jamie Shea

Lilia Shevtsova

Lord (David) Simon

Iain Duncan Smith

Lord (Christopher) Soames

Jacob Soderman

Xavier Solana

Dame Valerie Strachan

Gisela Stuart

Daniel Tarschys

Lady Margaret Thatcher

Richard Thomas

HE Mr Kim Traavik

HE Mrs Barbara Tuge-Erecińska

Lord (Adair) Turner

Stephen Tsang

Sir Brian Unwin

Karel van Miert

Keith Vaz

Christopher Walker

Sir Stephen Wall

Lord (William) Wallace

Graham Watson

Robert Watson

Lady Shirley Williams

David Williamson

Norman Willis

Nick Witney

Sir Robert Worcester

Yaşar Yakiş

Richard Youngs

HE Mr Michael Žantovský