Brexit: sympathy without support from Europe's right

Graphically drawn Big Ben in blue overlaid with yellow EU stars

Time and again, the unity shown by the 27 other members of the European Union in the face of Brexit has wrong-footed Downing St.

Indeed, Karin Kneissl, the Austrian foreign minister told us in a Newsnight interview, Brexit is "the only topic [on which] we are as cohesive as we are".

So how can it be that far from splitting the EU, getting member states to exert an influence and soften Michel Barnier's negotiating stance, the UK has managed to unite them to an almost unheard of degree?

And how does the EU defend its strict adherence to its negotiating stance in the light of the scepticism of the EU and sympathy for the UK that many citizens in the EU27 undoubtedly feel?

The view from Europe

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Media captionAustrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl says Austrians see Brexit as a cautionary tale

Last week I travelled around Austria in search of answers to those questions.

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Salisbury poisoning: Skripals 'were under Russian surveillance'

  • 4 July 2018
  • From the section UK
Yulia and Sergei Skripal Image copyright Reuters/BBC

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were being monitored by the Russian authorities in the months before their poisoning, BBC Newsnight understands.

The government alleged, in a letter to Nato, that the Russian authorities had hacked into Yulia's email account in 2013.

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Russian spy poisoning: How the Skripals were saved

  • 29 May 2018
  • From the section UK
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Media captionNewsnight: The night the Skripals were admitted to hospital

Hospital staff who saved the lives of poisoned Russians Sergei and Yulia Skripal have revealed they did not expect the victims of the nerve agent attack to survive.

The Skripals had been found slumped on a bench on 4 March - but staff treating them at Salisbury District Hospital did not initially know the reason why.

Read full article Russian spy poisoning: How the Skripals were saved

What lies in store for the world in 2017?

  • 28 December 2016
  • From the section Europe
A US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor stealth fighter aircraft Image copyright Getty Images

What lies in store for the world next year? Some telling recent events suggest it could be very difficult for Western countries.

While at the end of 2015 I looked at the way nationalistic populism would make the job of diplomats harder in 2016, now there are signs that the West's ability even to set the rules of the international game is beginning to unravel.

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Fears over how US President-elect Trump sees Nato's future

  • 8 December 2016
  • From the section Europe
Donald Trump raises his hand to shield his eyes from a bright ray of light Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Donald Trump criticised Nato a number of times during his campaign to become president

Donald Trump's policies "could spell the beginning of the end" of Nato, a senior former field commander for the alliance has told Newsnight.

General Sir Richard Shirreff, Nato's deputy supreme commander from 2011-2014, says the US President-elect should re-dedicate himself to the common defence of the western allies soon after his inauguration in January.

Read full article Fears over how US President-elect Trump sees Nato's future

US election 2016: What next for US foreign policy?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Image copyright AFP

America will likely emerge from the presidential election with a foreign policy that continues the recent trend of avoiding major foreign conflicts in order to focus on domestic issues - something you would hardly guess from the radically different foreign policy platforms of the two presidential candidates.

How so?

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Europeans ready to play hardball over Brexit

Connie Hedegaard
Image caption Connie Hedegaard believes a deal could take years

From Berlin to Paris and Rome, European governments are now engaging seriously with the possibility that Britain may vote to leave the EU and are making plans accordingly.

The possibility of prolonged political and financial instability leads former Danish Prime Minister and Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen to say: "I would be in favour of a very quick solution to this," adding: "These will be tough talks."

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Europe's migrant story enters new phase

  • 10 May 2016
  • From the section Europe

I've been reporting on the European migration crisis during the past year. In previous blogs I offered some initial impressions (see here and here). It's clear now, though, that the story has entered a new phase.

For now, the 'migrant crisis' in northern Europe is over

Image caption Refugees arriving at Rosenheim station in January - at that time the trains were coming twice an hour but now, only 80 people arrive per day

That doesn't mean there aren't people suffering nor that millions have stopped wanting to head up from Africa and the Middle East. What it does mean is that the stunning flow of more than one million people through the eastern Mediterranean, northwards via the Balkans to EU countries that we saw last year has been stopped.

Read full article Europe's migrant story enters new phase

Turning point in battle against IS?

An Iraqi soldier holds a position on the frontline on the outskirts of Makhmur, about 280 km (175 miles) north of Baghdad Image copyright Getty Images

The international campaign against the so-called Islamic State (IS) group is evolving quickly. As the United States announces a new phase in its campaign, shifting from "degrading" the so-called caliphate to destroying it, the key questions concern what the extremist group will do to thwart the campaign.

"The trend lines which were all going the wrong way are now going the right way," argues Brett McGurk, the Special Presidential Envoy or White House point man for the anti-IS battle. I recently spoke to him and Didier Le Bret, France's National Intelligence Co-ordinator, at the Aspen security conference in London. So what indicators convince them that the battle is turning?

Read full article Turning point in battle against IS?

Would the UK be safer in or out of the EU?

Soldiers from The Royal Tank Regiment in Wiltshire Image copyright PA
Image caption Would a European army spell the end for the British army?

People in the defence and security world express opinions about the United Kingdom's possible departure from the European Union that at times seem hard to reconcile.

Both sides agree key relationships from military cooperation through Nato to intelligence sharing via the so-called "five eyes" arrangements (the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) would remain unchanged - but "remainers" and "outers" each insist their chosen path would be better for national security.

Read full article Would the UK be safer in or out of the EU?