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The AEJ UK examines Brexit

50th anniversary debate – 28-29 September 2018

On the 50th anniversary of its formation in 1968 the AEJ UK hosted an open and substantial dialogue among figures from opposing sides of the Brexit debate. Six months before the UK’s scheduled departure from the European Union and at a time when the outcome of the negotiations was shrouded in extraordinary uncertainty, close to 100 diplomats, officials, and professionals from many fields including more than 40 journalists from all corners of Europe engaged in the debate.
In his keynote speech (see link here) on Friday September 28 Sir Martin Donnelly, who held senior posts dealing with the EU inside the Cabinet Office and Foreign Office until 2017, said that the UK government’s mishandling of the Brexit negotiations and unrealistic expectations were likely to result in serious damage to the country’s wealth and standing in the world. That could last years and would require a sober re-think of Britain’s testy relationship with its closest neighbours to achieve a recovery in its fortunes.
Gisela Stuart, who played a leading part in the Vote Leave campaign, contested that assessment. She said the referendum had shown the settled mindset of a majority of British people, she was confident that any second referendum would confirm the results of the first one, and that in future people would look back on this period of turmoil in the UK and ask themselves what all the fuss was about.

Links to 50th anniversary debate documents

The day-long Colloquium tested common ground in the fierce divisions exposed by the Brexit debate and included two panel discussions: –
The UK In and Out of Europe: Politics, Identity, and Cultures
Whose Europe Is It Anyway? Media and Public Opinion
Please see here for a detailed report and these links for more:
Photos and more on AEJ UK Facebook page
Debate on Twitter at #aejbrexitdebate
Agenda UK-EU Relations beyond Brexit: the  AEJ UK 50 years Forum
Opening remarks from William Horsley

Keynote speech by Sir Martin Donnelly
Notes on panellist Gisela Stuart

Notes from panellist Gina Miller
Notes from panellist Alexandre Holroyd
Notes from panellist James Hawes
Notes on panellist Peter Foster

Notes from panellist Imke Henkel
Notes from panellist Quentin Peel
Notes from panellist Stephen Jukes
Speakers biographies
Illustrated brochure celebrating the first fifty years of the AEJ UK





3 July 2020

     Danita Huebner
A view from Europe
The AEJ UK held its second virtual meeting of the coronavirus lockdown on July 3 with Danuta Huebner MEP, a member of Poland's centre-right Civic Platform and the European People's Party in the European Parliament, who served previously as an EU Commissioner and Polish Minister for Europe. Professor Huebner drew on her experiences of high-level involvement with Polish and European politics over the past two decades to answer a host of topical questions - the uncertain outlook for democracy and the rule of law in her native Poland, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Europe, likely EU-UK relations post-Brexit, and the EU's relationship with China at a time of unstable leadership in the US.  Please see this report from former FT correspondent Peter Norman on the wide-ranging discussion with 28 UK and Irish AEJ members who joined the call.

4 June 2020

     Llewellyn King
America in trouble
Veteran American journalist and columnist Llewellyn King was the online guest from Washington for the AEJ-UK’s first Zoom meeting on June 4. The wave of angry protests and riots that erupted across America following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis are a “bellow of rage” against the Trump administration, he said, and the U.S. “has never been on such a precipitous slope since the Civil War.” The honorary AEJ member and host and producer of the weekly PBS program “White House Chronicle” was joined by 20 AEJ online participants. For more on his analysis please read Peter Norman’s account of the AEJ’s “Letter from America with Llewellyn King” event and on King’s own website.


9 March 2020

     Jeff Kingston
China and Asia
China will bounce back from the coronavirus disruption, probably without any major long-term geopolitical impact. But, says Asia and China scholar Jeff Kingston, the consequences for President Xi Jinping might be less clear. Kingston - writer, columnist and Director of Asian Studies at Temple University Tokyo – briefed an AEJ UK meeting on March 9 2020 on China’s relationships in Asia. Please see this report on the meeting from former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio recording.

20 February 2020

     Nicola Hudson
UK cyber security
How is the UK dealing with threats to cyber security and defending against them? As Brexit looms and debate continues about potential cyber threats such as the involvement of China’s Huawei in 5G telecommunications and Russian or other state interference in democratic processes in the UK and elsewhere, Nicola Hudson, Director of Policy and Communications at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), explained the role of her young agency. She told the AEJ on February 20 2020 the NCSC, formed only 3 years ago, functions in two very different worlds:
– as an operational division of GCHQ, the UK's signals intelligence agency, involved for instance in the government's recent controversial decision to allow Huawei access in the development of 5G mobile telecommunications in Britain
- and at a public level seeking ways of raising awareness of fast growing cyber threats and devising innovative ways of developing the population's cyber security skills for a future where artificial intelligence, computer power and online activity will be ever more central.
For more on her presentation please see this report from former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio recording.


29 January 2020

     Rory Stewart
London central to UK future relations with EU?
Rory Stewart, former Conservative MP, cabinet minister, and contender for Conservative party leader, says London could have a "very, very central" part to play in Britain's future relations with the European Union. Stewart was an independent candidate for London mayor in elections scheduled for May 7 2020 but withdrew after they were postponed for a year. He told an AEJ UK meeting on January 29 2020 that London’s connections and contributions are crucial to the success of the rest of the UK and it could act as a bridge between Britain and the EU over the next 10 to 15 years in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology while still learning from policies in other European cities. For more on his argument and following discussion please see this report from former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio recording of the meeting.



20 November 2019

     Lord Peter Ricketts
The future after Brexit
Britain’s role in the world will require a new national strategy if Brexit happens - and that needs a lot more attention says one of Britain’s top diplomats. Lord Peter Ricketts, former UK National Security Adviser and head of the diplomatic service, told an AEJ lunch on November 20th 2019 that’s just one of the multiple challenges facing the UK in a post Brexit world. For more on his presentation please see this report from former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio transcript.


23 October 2019

     Lord David Willetts
Will Brexit cause more civil unrest?
That’s one of the questions posed to – and by - Lord David Willetts, a prominent Conservative Party thinker, former minister, and until recently Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation, an independent think tank focused on improving living standards for people on low to middle incomes. “Very polarised and volatile” is how the current mood in England was described by the Archbishop of Canterbury – and he advised prime minister Boris Johnson and other politicians to stop stoking hate and using inflammatory language. At an AEJ UK meeting on October 23 Lord Willetts tried to bring some clearer perspective to the social, economic and political issues increasingly polarised by Brexit. For more on the former Universities and Science Minister’s in-depth analysis please see this report from ex-FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio transcript of the meeting.    


24 September 2019

     Catherine Barnard
State of play
Confused about Brexit? Less than two hours after the UK Supreme Court ruled that the government’s suspension of Parliament was illegal, one of the leading experts on European Union law, Catherine Barnard, gave an instant assessment of the landmark ruling and clarified some of the possible ways forward. At the AEJ UK on September 24 the professor of European Union and Labour Law at Trinity College Cambridge and a senior fellow at The UK in a Changing Europe explained the consequences of a no-deal Brexit and the other possible courses of action by Boris Johnson’s government up to October 31st , as well as the massive task ahead to negotiate a long-term treaty between the UK and its major trading partners in Europe. Please see here for a report on the meeting from AEJ member and ex FT correspondent Peter Norman, an audio transcript of the meeting and here for her Powerpoint slide presentation.


25 June 2019

     George Magnus
China – traps in the way of dominance?  China’s development faces four fundamental traps which could slow down or even derail the country’s widely assumed march towards global economic dominance – traps that few people outside the country recognise says economist George Magnus, author of “Red Flags: Why Xi's China is in Jeopardy”. As China hit the headlines again with a crackdown on protests in Hong Kong and a surprise twist on Huawei in the trade war with the United States, it is these inter-related traps that form a potential block to China’s development Magnus told the AEJ UK on June 25. Best known for anticipating the financial crisis of 2008, Magnus has been travelling to China since 1992 and laid out his four traps – debt, currency, ageing, and income. Please see this full report on the meeting from AEJ member Chris Cragg and this audio transcript.


30 May 2019

     Brunello Rosa
European populism is not “contained”
That at least is the view of Brunello Rosa, CEO of Rosa and Roubini Associates and an analyst of strategic country risks who closely monitors geopolitical trends and the economic performance of countries across Europe. He told the AEJ UK on May 30 he strongly disagreed with the idea that”populists have been contained” as expressed by Martin Selmayr, secretary general of the European Commission, and other observers. He noted the gains by right-wing populist parties in May’s elections for the European Parliament and spelled out some of the impact they may have. For more on his presentation please see this report from AEJ member Charles Jenkins and this audio transcript of the meeting.


24 April  2019

     Robert Hazell
Does the UK face a constitutional crisis?
Yes says constitutional expert Robert Hazell. And it pits popular sovereignty against parliamentary sovereignty, and the four nations of the UK against each other. But this is a failure of the political system not the United Kingdom’s unwritten constitution the professor of government and the constitution at University College London and founder of its Constitution Unit told the AEJ UK on April 24. He says Brexit has triggered this crisis and its origins lie in the British political system, Westminster’s adversarial political culture, and serious failures of political leadership. Please see this report on the meeting from former FT correspondent Peter Norman and here for an audio transcript of his presentation and following questions and answers


29 March 2019

     Sir Ivan Rogers
Brexit causes crises
One of the UK’s key political insiders for the last 20 years and the man who represented the UK at the EU until January 2017 says Brexit has put the country into a political crisis - and potentially a constitutional and democratic crisis with unknown economic implications. Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK Permanent Representative to the EU from November 2013, resigned shortly before Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to trigger Article 50 on March 29 of that year starting a two-year countdown to Brexit. Before serving at the EU Sir Ivan was principal private secretary to Tony Blair from 2003-06 and David Cameron’s main adviser for Europe and global Issues from 2012-2013. On the day previously designated as the deadline for Brexit Sir Ivan provided the AEJ UK with a uniquely qualified insider’s comprehensive and insightful analysis of how we got here and what might be ahead. Please listen here for an audio transcript of his remarks and following questions and answers. Earlier the same day Sir Ivan participated in a similar panel discussion at Chatham House which can be viewed here.


26 February 2019

     Bill Browder
 Vladimir Putin’s “Number 1 Enemy”
 Bill Browder characteristically starts his presentation with an escapade in Spain in May 2018 when he was arrested on an Interpol warrant requested by Russia. It was another chapter in the story of a man proud to call himself Putin’s number one enemy. At a crowded AEJ meeting of UK-based journalists on February 26 2019 he described his personal journey from American capitalist making a huge fortune in post-Soviet Russia to campaigner exposing corruption and abuse – a story that ironically goes back to his grandfather who led the Communist Party in the USA in the 1940s. Browder is CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, was thrown out of Russia in 2005, and is the man behind the Magnitsky Act – named after his now dead Russian lawyer – which is aimed at rooting out money laundering and bans gross abusers of human rights from visiting or holding assets in the USA. Given the number of accusations that Browder throws out it might seem surprising that he’s still alive and fighting but he says keeping a high public profile is probably what keeps him alive. For more on this meeting please see this report from AEJ UK chairman William Horsley and this audio transcript of his presentation and following question and answer exchange.




11 December 2018

     Sir Stephen Wall
Britain in the EU and what next?
On the day UK Prime Minister Theresa May faced a vote of no confidence from her own party, the official historian of Britain's membership in the European Community told the AEJ UK that Britain’s issues with it date back to the very beginning of the relationship in the early 1960s. Mrs. May won her vote of confidence. But that did nothing to resolve the UK political impasse over Brexit. And at an AEJ lunch on December 11, Sir Stephen Wall, retired senior UK diplomat and author of the official history of Britain’s relations with the EU, reflected on the long and fraught history behind the divisive vote in the referendum on the EU in 2016. Laying out some of the highlights of this history, he attributed these long term factors as well as the disruption of the 2008-9 global financial crisis to Britain's "No" vote in 2016. He said political errors in the management of Brexit had further contributed to the current crisis. What now then?  That’s "anyone's guess" says Sir Stephen. As a supporter of remaining in the EU he was more hopeful of a second referendum but there were major issues over the wording of the questions and even more the reaction of the British voters. And both Mrs. May’s deal with the EU or any of the trade alternatives so far being suggested faced long and hard bargaining without solving the problem of the EU-UK border in Ireland. He predicts the UK is "destined for a decade or more of real difficulty" before regaining the prosperity lost through Brexit.  It removes Britain from policies and institutions previously deemed important for maintaining peace and security since the second world war and reduces Britain’s political clout in the world. And, he added, it would be a real loss to the EU. The UK has contributed to EU foreign policy cooperation; promoted the single market; promoted reforms on agriculture, financial services, and digital plans; and partly acted as a bulwark against Franco-German dominance of the EU. For more on his informative presentation please see this report from former FT correspondent Peter Norman and this audio transcript.

22 November 2018

     Sir Nigel Sheinwald
Bleak outlook with Brexit says former top UK diplomat
Sir Nigel Sheinwald, one of the UK’s top diplomats before he retired, is not hopeful. In a meeting with the AEJ UK on November 22 to discuss Britain’s future after Brexit he asked if there are grounds for optimism. And his conclusion was very few. He said outside the EU, the UK would lose influence at a practical level and would lose stature in the view of the rest of the world. And the UK’s position is further weakened by two other factors he added - the fraying of its relationship and influence with the United States under President Donald Trump, and threats to the multilateral system of alliances and institutions that has served much of the western world for 70 years since the Second World War. Sir Nigel has 36 years experience as a UK diplomat including his three final jobs as UK ambassador to the US from 2007 to 2012, foreign policy and defence advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair from 2003 to 2007, and UK Ambassador to the EU from 2000 to 2003. Despite his pessimistic view of the future he did have some advice for UK action after Brexit so for more on his thoughts please read this report from former FT correspondent Peter Norman.

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.




9 November 2017

      Lord Andrew Adonis
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
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:

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 




 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

15 April 2016

Lord Norman Lamont

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

26 February 2016

Dr Gerard Lyons

Chief Economic Adviser to the Mayor of London


29 January 2016

Maurice Frankel

Director, Campaign for Freedom of Information



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


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

6 October 2015

Eugenio Ambrosi

European Regional Head of the International Organisation for Migration

See Laurence Peter’s report for BBC News

10 July 2015

Richard Howitt MEP

Member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee

Jonathan Fryer’s blog

26 May 2015

Dr Igor Sutyagin

RUSI research fellow, exiled Russian expert on arms control

17 April 2015

Richard Barrett

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

24 March 2015

Lord (Mark) Malloch-Brown

Former Deputy UN Secretary-General and Minister at the FCO

3 March 2015

Pat McFadden MP

Shadow Minister for Europe


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



9 December 2014

HE Dr Peter Ammon

Germany's Ambassador to the UK

3 October 2014

Lord (Anthony) Lester QC

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

8 September 2014

Fawaz A Gerges

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

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

20 June 2014

Anne Applebaum

Author, journalist and sovietologist

14 March 2014

EP election special

Simon Hix

Professor of European and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics

poll analysis;;; EP voting generally

Derk Jan Eppink

Retiring Conservatives and Reformists Group MEP for Brussels (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