General Info

EU Council meeting (15 and 16 October 2020)

Conclusions adopted by the EU Council at the meeting held on 15 and 16 October 2020.

Related to the future UK-EU Trade negotiations …


4. The European Council recalls that the transition period will end on 31 December 2020 and notes with concern that progress on the key issues of interest to the Union is still not sufficient
for an agreement to be reached.

5. The European Council reaffirms the Union’s determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom on the basis of the negotiating directives of 25 February 2020, while respecting the previously agreed European Council guidelines, as
well as statements and declarations, notably those of 25 November 2018, in particular as regards the level playing field, governance and fisheries.

6. Against this background, the European Council invites the Union’s chief negotiator to continue negotiations in the coming weeks, and calls on the UK to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible.

7. As regards the Internal Market Bill tabled by the UK government, the European Council recalls that the Withdrawal Agreement and its Protocols must be fully and timely implemented.

8. The European Council calls upon Member States, Union institutions and all stakeholders to step up their work on preparedness and readiness at all levels and for all outcomes, including that of no agreement, and invites the Commission, in particular, to give timely consideration to unilateral and time-limited contingency measures that are in the EU’s interest.

9. The European Council will remain seized of the matter.


Seized of a matter. Seised or seized comes from the French verb saisir and means to grasp, seize or grip. In the legal context it means that an entity, usually a court, has decided that it will consider a legal matter or issue falling within its jurisdiction. In this case it probably means that the EU Council “reserves the right to reconsider”

Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) tweeted:

“EU-UK talks: the EU continues to work for a deal, but not at any price. As planned, our negotiation team will go to London next week to intensify these negotiations.”

David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) tweeted:

1/3 Disappointed by the #EUCO conclusions on UK/EU negotiations. Surprised EU is no longer committed to working “intensively” to reach a future partnership as agreed with
@vonderleyen on 3 October.

2/3 Also surprised by suggestion that to get an agreement all future moves must come from UK. It’s an unusual approach to conducting a negotiation.

3/3 PM @BorisJohnson will set out UK reactions and approach tomorrow in the light of his statement of 7 September.

Angela Merkel said that she

“hopes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will continue to engage in constructive negotiations that could lead to a deal. As long as we don’t have a deal we always have the option to consider how things would be without an agreement. I still think it is better to get a deal but not at any price.”


“We have called on Great Britain to continue to be willing to compromise for the sake of an agreement. That of course includes that we also must make compromises.”

Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron/ tweeted:

“In view of Brexit, the British need a deal more than the European Union. The Europeans are ready to continue negotiations. Our conditions are clear and known. It is now up to the UK to choose whether or not it wants a deal.”

also stated

“if there is no deal between the U.K. and the EU, Britain would no longer have access to Europe’s single energy market and that would cost more than €1 billion per year … bad deal for the U.K.”

and finally …

No mobile phones are allowed during the discussion on Brexit.

Council President Charles Michel “has requested to guarantee confidentiality on a sensitive issue”. The discussion is held under strict confidentiality conditions and leaders don’t have access to their mobile phones in order to keep leaders discussions on Brexit confidential

General Election 2019 General Info

General Election 2019 – Exit Poll

Having managed to ignore most of the rhetoric since the announcement of a General Election on 12 December 2019, the election finally came to pass and my first item to report on is the Exit Poll which was announced at 10:00 pm on Thursday 12 December.

An Exit Poll asks voters as they leave a polling station who they actually voted for. The Ipsos Mori Exit Poll was held in 144 constituencies in England Scotland and Wales and are chosen as being representative of the country. As voters leave the polling station they are selected at regular intervals to fill in a replica ballot paper which is placed into a box to be opened and counted later – in this way they do not have to identify who they voted for. These votes are used to determine voting patterns which can be extended across the country as a whole to determine the potential result of the election. The first 2019 exit poll will not cover the last half hour or so of voting in order to be available to be released at 10:00 pm – it may, however, be updated to reflect actual results from the election as they are announced.

The prediction is:

Exit Poll
Party Seats
Conservative 368
Labour 191
SNP 55
LD 13
Others 23
General Info

Brexit: What did you agree with the UK today?

What has been agreed between the UK and the EU (“the latest deal”) from an EU Perspective, Questions and Answers and other EU links. (17 October 2019)

What have you agreed on?

In light of the United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from the European Union, the European Commission has today reached an agreement at negotiator level with the UK on a revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland and a revised Political Declaration on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship.

The revised Protocol provides a legally operative solution that avoids a hard border on the island of Ireland, protects the all-island economy and the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement in all its dimensions, and safeguards the integrity of the EU Single Market.

Northern Ireland will remain aligned to a limited set of Single Market rules to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. Today’s Protocol will also avoid any customs border on the island of Ireland, while ensuring that Northern Ireland remains part of the UK’s customs territory. The Northern Ireland Assembly will have a decisive voice on the long-term application of relevant EU law in Northern Ireland.

The main change in the Political Declaration relates to the future EU-UK economic relationship where the current UK government has opted for a model based on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The Political Declaration confirms the ambition to conclude an FTA with zero tariffs and quotas between the EU and the UK, and states that robust commitments on a level playing field should ensure open and fair competition.

The full report is available at

Brexit: What did you agree with the UK today

Other Links

Letter from President Jean-Claude Juncker to President Donald Tusk

Revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland

Revised Political Declaration

European Commission Recommendation

and copies at

Letter from President Jean-Claude Juncker to President Donald Tusk (pdf)

Revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland (pdf)

Revised Political Declaration (pdf)

European Commission Recommendation (pdf)

EU Referendum General Info Politics

Playing with the Numbers (again)

I’ve noticed various claims about how many people voted to remain in or to leave the EU – which can be interpreted depending on your point of view.

Here’s a typical example, this one from the Scotsman newspaper

The picture (where the banner looks as if it was photo-shopped in) shows the claim:

73% of British Voters did not vote to Leave the EU

Is this True ?

The actual figures, from the Electoral Commission, allow many differing interpretations depending on your point of view.

Results and turnout at the EU referendum

The full results data is available at

Full set of EU referendum result data (csv)

or here.

Some interpretations

What you usually see is that 51.85% of actual votes were cast in favour of leaving the EU and 48.07% were cast in favour of remaining in the EU (with 0.08% of the votes being invalid) from a total of 33,578,037 votes cast.

However, you could also say that, based on the total electorate of 46,500,001 voters , 37.44% voted to Leave, 34.71% voted to Remain, 27.79% did not vote and 0.05% of ballot papers were invalid. ( i.e. 12,921,964 people did not use their vote)


62.55% of possible voters did NOT vote to LEAVE the EU


65.28% of possible voters did NOT vote to REMAIN in the EU

depending on your point of view.

Similarly votes by region can be interpreted depending on your point of view. For example, in Scotland, there are a possible 3,987,112 votes (electorate) so that based on the total electorate, 41.66% voted to Remain, 25.54% voted to leave, 32.75% did not vote and there were 0.04% invalid votes.

Using this basis,

74.45% of possible voters in Scotland did NOT vote to LEAVE the EU


58.33% of possible voters in Scotland did NOT vote to REMAIN in the EU

Electorate by country

Total Electorate in the UK is 46,500,001

England: 38,981,662 (83.83%), 533 MPs

Scotland: 3,987,112.00 (8.6%), 59 MPs

Wales: 2,270,272 (4.88%) 40 MPs

Northern Ireland: 1,260,955 (2.71%) 18 MPs

Brexit General Info Politics

Getting ready for Brexit campaign

If you think that the UK will ever leave the EU you may want to take a look at a new Government initiative, launched on 1 Sep 2019.

The Government has launched a new public information campaign, “Get Ready for Brexit“, that will be available across TV, Social Media Billboards and other platforms.

Government research shows that only 50% of the population think it’s likely the UK will leave the EU on 31 October, 42% of small-to-medium sized businesses are unsure of how they can get ready and just 31% of the British public have looked for information on how to prepare for Brexit.

The campaign will tackle this head on by setting out what all members of the public and business owners might need to do, if anything, to get ready to leave the EU on 31 October.

Audiences including UK citizens intending to travel to Europe and all exporters to the EU will be targeted, alongside groups requiring particular information such as the equine industry and legal professions.

Some of the key actions audiences need to take include:

  • Acquiring an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number to export to the EU. Businesses that are VAT registered will automatically issued an EORI number, but micro businesses still need to register themselves.
  • Obtaining the correct documents to transport goods at the border.
  • Applying for the vital support packages available for businesses, such as grants.
  • Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said:

    Ensuring an orderly Brexit is not only a matter of national importance, but a shared responsibility.

    This campaign will encourage the country to come together to Get Ready for Brexit on 31 October.

    Advertising accompanied with targeted road shows and events will drive people to GOV.UK, which has a new checker tool so audiences can identify what they need to do to get ready for Brexit quickly.

    There will be how to videos and step by step guides – so whether you are a small business owner, haulier or EU citizen residing in the UK – the actions you need to take to prepare will be clear and simple.