Brexit: Is Brussels ready to give UK more time?

French President Macron and German Chancellor Merkel speak at an EU summit Image copyright AFP

Publicly, the EU27 have told Theresa May the clock is ticking and that preparations for a no-deal Brexit are intensifying. Privately, the talk is all about extending the Article 50 period and defusing that time bomb due to go off on 29 March.

Brexiteers have long told us that the EU27 have much to fear from no deal, and in this they are right.

But where they're wrong - or seem to be from all the contacts one has in this city - is in their presumption that this fear of an exit without a deal would lead other EU members to compromise their principles or suddenly shift their own red lines.

Of this there is no sign. Instead the key European players - France and Germany - seem to be preparing fellow members for an extension to Article 50 in order to give the UK more time to change its mind.

As a senior German politician said to me just after the referendum result in 2016 - and referring then to the UK's invocation of Article 50: "Why press on the accelerator when you are driving towards a cliff edge?"

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Post-Brexit: Will a new leader of the EU emerge?

Angela Merkel at the Bundestag Image copyright Michele Tantussi

The prospect of Brexit looms large in Berlin these days and people are not happy about it. "We lose Britain, and we keep Italy: it's grotesque", one former minister commented ruefully to me.

That barbed remark lays bare a real anxiety among Germans, that somehow the European Union's centre of gravity will shift once the UK has gone, that a delicate balance will be upset, and it will not be in Berlin's favour.

Read full article Post-Brexit: Will a new leader of the EU emerge?

Yemen: will calls for peace lead to more violence?

Houthi Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Houthi followers demonstrating

At last there is the chance of meaningful Yemen peace talks, so we'd be well advised to expect an intensification of violence.

How does that make any sense? It comes down to the desire of the warring parties to influence the negotiation, by making last minute gains.

Read full article Yemen: will calls for peace lead to more violence?

Brexit: Article 50 is not fit for purpose

Brexit graphic Image copyright Getty Images

Perhaps the greatest fallacy in the UK's Brexit referendum was that there was a viable way to leave the European Union.

Each side in the campaign had its own reasons for wanting to ignore the fact that the process set out under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty was at best vague, at worst unfeasible.

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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".

Read full article Brexit: sympathy without support from Europe's right

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.

Read full article Salisbury poisoning: Skripals 'were under Russian surveillance'

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?

Read full article US election 2016: What next for US foreign policy?