A Greek-British initiative recently developed within Brunel’s Britain in Europe think tank to explore the post-Brexit relationship between the two countries - as a case study of UK relationships with EU member states after Brexit - is gaining significant momentum with the media in Greece.
On the night of Britain’s General Election, BiE founder Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos joined a political TV panel in Greece via Skype and spoke on national radio, providing a quick reaction to the exit poll result.
The day after the elections, Dr Giannoulopoulos made a long intervention at another political TV panel, and was also quoted in major newspaper Ta Nea and published a piece in Sunday paper Nea Selida.
He spoke about the impact that Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto had on the electorate, contrasting Labour’s focus on day-to-day issues with Theresa May’s negative campaign, which proved unable to go beyond political slogans and alienated the electorate.
From the moment she came into 10 Downing Street, Theresa May chose to speak to the people through the medium of rhetoric, empty of substance, noted Dr Giannoulopoulos in Nea Selida:
“‘Brexit means Brexit’, ‘Red, White and Blue Brexit’, ‘No running commentary’, ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’, and finally the excruciatingly oft repeated ‘strong and stable leadership’.
“Perhaps it was the Brexiters’ success with ‘take back control’ that led her down this path, but, in the end, the electorate said ‘enough is enough’ (another favourite of the PM). ‘Jeremy Corbyn [was] the man who beat the political slogans’."
Jeremy Corbyn’s political manifesto created hope, Dr Giannoulopoulos also explained:
“Corbyn’s dignified response to the Manchester and London terrorist attacks could easily be contrasted with the Conservatives’ effort to score political points, with Theresa May going so far as reneging on her manifesto promise – made just three weeks earlier – to protect the Human Rights Act.
'I’ll rip up human rights laws that impede new terror legislation’, she threatened, just two days before the election; this was probably one U-turn too many, concluded Dr Giannoulopoulos, also highlighting research he is undertaking with young people, showing that there is great support among them for the Human Rights Act.
Asked on the night of the election about the chances of the Conservatives forming a coalition government, Dr Giannoulopoulos pointed out how Theresa May’s campaign was about warning the electorate about Corbyn’s ‘coalition of chaos’, so he risked the prediction that the PM would now not set up such a coalition herself. But the PM did just that in the end.
Dr Giannoulopoulos also expressed the view that Theresa May had now lost the credibility required to govern the country. He argues that this result has made ‘hard Brexit’ an untenable position, which obviously has serious ramifications for the forthcoming negotiations with the EU and perhaps created better conditions for the unilateral recognition of the rights of EU citizens in the UK, an issue on which Brunel’s ‘Britain in Europe’ has spent considerable energy since the referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
Corbyn and Labour, on the other hand, had much scope to reevaluate their position on Brexit, pointed out Dr Giannoulopoulos:
“Since the referendum they had been between a rock and a hard place, with most of their supporters voting for Brexit while the party had historically been pro-European. But the electorate’s rejection of May’s hard Brexit meant that they could now more easily pursue a closer collaboration with Europe and a more moderate approach to leaving the EU.”