LONG READ: Trudeau vs. Trump: A Two-Fold Tale of Tantrums and Tariffs

From Amelia Hadfield – Professor of European and International Relations.


I admit it. I’m a foreign policy junkie. I admit to getting a buzz during the G7, the EU, the UN. Not even Brexit has worn down the intoxication of the international. But I wasn’t prepared for the adrenalin rush of the recent G7, and the war of words between the US and …Canada?

Donald Trump vs… Justin Trudeau?? Flashbacks of Nixon vs. Trudeau Senior! It’s all so close to the UK-US press conference in the Mike Nichols film Love Actually, when Hugh ‘I can play Conservative or Liberal leaders with equal aplomb’ Grant tells the reassuringly sleazy US President to stop being a bully (after the latter flirted with the former’s non-quite-but-probably-final-scene-girlfriend).

Having won the foreign policy shoot-out, Grant then indulges in some impressive interpretative dance throughout No. 10 to the strains of ‘Jump’ by The Pointer Sisters to prove his quintessential coolness (a major omission from the otherwise magisterial 3-part A Very English Scandal, in my opinion). Not sure if young Justin Trudeau can bop with similar aplomb along the oak-lined corridors of 24 Sussex Drive (that’s the official residence of the Canadian PM), in Ottawa (that’s the capital of Canada). If the raw material for such hip swinging is a good old, fashion foreign policy spat, then he’s off to a good start. Of course, like any good spat, it needs to be made clear at the outset that THEY started it.


The Tariff Tango

Let’s recap. Back in April, President Trump first floated the threat of tariffs, demanding that Canada, Mexico and the EU agree to voluntarily limit their exports to the US. They said no, unlike Argentina, Australia, Brazil and Korea. A couple of weeks ago, Trump then made good on his threat to implement 25% tariffs on steel imported from the EU, Canada, and Mexico and a further 10% on aluminium (yes, I know, Canada and the US alike pronounce it al-u-minum).

Why? Because there is a surfeit of cheap steel in the global market, driven by Chinese practices of dumping low-cost steel in other markets? That’s one reason. Because US steel can’t compete however low they drop their own prices, and require government subsidies to survive? That’s another. Because US steel is consequently an imperilled part of a poorly managed national economy? Yes again.

BUT (and here’s the key question), is US steel vital to the national security of the US and therefore entirely to be defended via tariffs? Rubbish. US steel is an economic sector. It is one part of the wider national economy. It is not on its own strategic to US national or even economic security. As argued by Professor Alan Winters of the Sussex Trade Policy Observatory, while “World Trade Organisation rules permit members to impose trade restrictions in the name of national security… the USA has not made a plausible case of immediate national security threats. Rather, US government statements refer to the travails of the US steel sector – that is, the tariffs are simply protection for an economic sector, not of a national economy”.[1] As such, the tariffs are therefore clearly illegal.


The Land of Consequences

By slapping trade tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, Trump has created three major hurdles for himself, with damaging repercussion for the US both at home and abroad.

First, Trump has made a collective trade foe of EU, Canada and Mexico. Slapping tariffs on their steel and aluminium, insisting on the strategic (even military) rather than economic role of steel, and finally throwing a temper tantrum when Trudeau reasonably pointed out with other leaders at the recent G7 that such tariffs won’t be taken lightly reveals that Trump’s adolescent approach to world affairs won’t mature anytime soon. More on the implications for the land of the maple leaf in Part II of this blog.

Second, Trump has given rise to genuine ‘bad faith diplomacy’ between him, and the rest of the G7 (at a minimum). As the fabulous ‘Last Supper’ photo of a resentful Trump opposite a deliciously peeved Merkel indicated, Trump has continued to alienate both the key personages within grouping like the G7, and the underlying system and values that they represent. Not wise. If contemporary political history teaches us one thing, it’s that you don’t ride roughshod over hard-won allies. Bridge building with North Korea may seem cool and edgy, but bullying those historically supportive of America – both remote and proximate – is a singularly injudicious approach (that’s Canadian for stupid).

Trump’s approach will have political consequences. And it will have trade consequences – some of which have already begun. The EU, Canada and Mexico have responded identically: with limited but target tariff retaliations of their own. The EU swiftly opened a case at the WTO, with EU trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström announcing reasonable, proportionate, WTO-compliant retaliatory tariffs on classic US products from, bourbon whiskey to peanut butter and jeans, concluding that “this is not the way we do business, and certainly not between longstanding partners, friends and allies”.[2] Britain’s UK international trade secretary Liam Fox also declared US tariffs as ‘patently absurd’, while (possibly football obsessed) Germany argued that hitting symbolic US products like Harley Davidson would show Trump a red card[3]. Even EU diplomacy supremo (supremette?) Federica Mogherini weighed in, arguing that the EU supported free and fair trade, and busy “multiplying the trade agreements with our partners in the world” rather than foreclosing on key opportunities.[4]

Beyond the shores of Europe, many within the US, both Democrats and Republicans, arguably support the pithy observation of Republican Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska that Trump’s approach was – in a word – “dumb”. In foreign policy terms, Sasse suggested that “you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents”; and further, that “blanket protectionism is a big part of why America had a Great Depression. ‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again’”.[5]  Compelling stuff.

Third, in terms of the global system of trade, ‘Trump’s Tariffs’ represents a genuine threat to the wold trading system, which has underpinned the majority of post-war global prosperity, boosting income increases and sectoral decreases in poverty. Trump is famously antagonistic to multilateralism in general, and key institutions like the EU, the UN, and the WTO in particular. Taking aim at the WTO, Trump has refused to agree to the appointment of judges to the WTO’s Appellate Body, which as Winters points out will prevent the WTO from hearing appeals on disputes, halting the entire system, with the result that “there will be no enforcement mechanism for the rules-based system”. Worse, steel and aluminium tariffs are only the beginning. Trump has launched an inquiry into making a case for US national security out of car and car part imports – a vastly larger sector. Tariffs here – whatever the raison d’etre of their imposition – would result in “massive and widespread economic costs and vigorous retaliation” from China, Japan, the EU and more.[6]

The Canadian G7 marks an exciting new low point in transatlantic relations; its febrile atmosphere emphasised exquisitely in the above-mentioned pic of Angela “look me in the eye when I’m talking to you, dammit” Merkel staring down Donald “I’ve got a plane to catch” Trump. Donald’s chickens may come home to roost. The EU, Canada and Mexico together can easily combine their respective retaliatory tariffs to make it genuinely costly for a whole range of US exporters – from farmers to whiskey producers – to ship their products abroad. And they’ve got the moral high ground in simply being seen to stand up to Trump (including a satisfyingly chastened Macron).

Surely the right response to is to keep the rules-based system in place by supporting rather than hobbling the WTO; working on a compromise with allies to reduce the overall output of steel; and targeting Chinese (and global) steel overcapacity in a more balanced series of measures. Fallacious arguments suggestion steel, aluminium and cars represent American national security interests won’t wash with anyone. Trump should look more closely at the US’s own steel imports which in 2017 represented $29 billion (only $1billion of which came from China in terms of steel, and $1.7 billion in aluminium), and ask whether its domestic balance is where it should be. A basic lesson in economics wouldn’t go astray for the current White House resident: a trade deficit is very simplistic measure by which to measure national growth and sustainability.


‘No More Mr Nice Canada’[7]

Onto the fun stuff. First, in terms of local signalling, were Canada and Mexico given any notice of Trump’s decision to impose steel and aluminium tariffs? Based on the “earnest negotiations” that both have undertaken with the US against the backdrop of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, a decent smoke signal would have been expected across both America’s north and south borders.[8] But it transpires that neither country was notified by the White House of the tariffs, nor the broader picture of US intentions regarding NAFTA, which will likely be impacted should tariffs boil over into an all-out trade war. Neither side took kindly to the Trump rationale either. As Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland chippily observed, “Canada considers it frankly absurd that we would in any way be considered to be a national security threat to the United States.” Turning to the domestic sectors, Freeland went on to “absolutely assure” Canadian steel and aluminium sectors “that the government is absolutely prepared to and will defend Canadian industries and Canadian jobs”.[9] This from a Canadian politician! Well, if you’re trade minister, and on the brink of a trade war, you get to haul out the big guns…

As I’ve suggested, the retaliatory tariffs levied by the US, Mexico and Canada on symbolic American products are a natural consequence of Trump’s own strategy. But Trump underscored his strategy with a national imperative: that steel and aluminium are fundamental to America’s collective security. Canada in particular has reacted strongly at the suggestion that it (via its imports) somehow poses a national security threat to America. Only Trump’s bizarrely illogical take on bilateral relations would interpret Canada’s refusal to cave to the tariffs as  intrinsically weak, or that Trudeau’s suggestion (made ever so politely) that neither Canada & Mexico nor the EU would ‘take them lightly’ rendered him feckless.


Trump’s Tantric Tantrums

Trudeau’s response is in no sense weak. Indeed, from bourbon to peanut butter, from diary to gherkins, it’s pretty darn robust. Trudeau’s stance provoked a full-blown Trump Tantrum, labelling Trudeau weak on Twitter. Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade advisor colourfully suggested to Fox News Sunday that “there’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy”.[10]  The presidential hissy fit has in consequence scuppered that final G7 communique (which the US refused to endorse), and prompted both international and national unity.

Trudeau – and Canada as a whole – were happy to act as G7 hosts. I suspect Trudeau and Canadian Trade Minister Freeland would likely have considered alternatives to the ballooning trade war, not only with their EU and Mexican colleagues but against the backdrop of the faltering NAFTA negotiations (a deal even worse than Iran? Probably). But not now. Now it’s a national issue. As Jen Gerson neatly pointed out, ‘Trump may be a polarizing figure in the US, but he is turning out to be a great unifier of Canadians’.[11] We may not all be card-carrying members of Trudeau’s Liberal party, but trade tariffs and insults suggesting Trudeau – and by extension all Canadians – are meek and mild, are a step too far.


Warning: Angry Canadians Ahead!

Well done, Donald. Worse than cosying up to Kim Jong Un, you’ve actually upset the Canadians! That’s virtually unheard of. It’s also a classic foreign policy blunder. Do you realise how hard it is to genuinely upset a Canadian? How virtually impossible it is – bar hockey defeats – to upset the entire Canadian nation? I’m going to quite Gerson again, because she’s got this spot on:

“If a nation of millions can have a collective character, then it is true what is said about Canadians. We are a stoic, rule-abiding and polite people. We are also smug, passive-aggressive [except in hockey, that’s just flat out aggressive-aggressive] and proud.”[12]

Canada’s easy-going attitude only extends so far. You don’t mess with bilateral trade, and you don’t bully her. Or, indeed, anyone. Canadian values, culture, and support for international peace and multilateralism are entrenched in its respect for differences, in the need for honesty, decency, and the judicious interplay of individual interests that produces good deals collectively. All of these are hallmarks of how Canada is – for the most part – generally prepared work with others at home and abroad.

But you don’t mess with our apparently overpriced cheese. Maybe last week, we could have negotiated the supply of steel, aluminium, and even our delicious, if overpriced dairy products. But not now. We may the nice guys internationally, but we won’t be insulted or treated as a cheesy client state. Like it or not, Trump has arguably taught Canada a valuable lesson. At this point – and echoing Angela Merkel’s sombre assessment – we can no longer trust, or rely, engage maturely with America as we have before. They are neither a trusted trade partner, nor a political ally. Under the Trump administration, America is a liability. We need to rethink our trade policy, and also our foreign policy.


Tricky Trade

Trump needs to reflect on the key message found in the US Department Commerce’s January 2018 report. Essentially, that there is no self-standing American steel industry because its various supply chains are so comprehensively tied to Canada. It’s more a cross-border dual market than two single markets. The report suggested that while tariffs might work in America’s favour in signalling the US’s inability to tackle world-wide excess steel production, failing to exempt Canada from such tariffs would produce retaliations that would consequently harm the entirety of America’s own exports in a far more profound way in the long-term. The bad news is that any tit-for-tats would ultimately harm Canada too. As Margaret Macmillan recently observed, “the recent spat has backed Canada into an uncomfortable position: while attempting to remain steadfast against a belligerent trade partner, it must also reckon with the fact that much of its economic productivity is tied to seamless free trade with its southern neighbour.”[13]


Rewriting Canada’s Reputation

As Justin Ling argued in Foreign Policy, history is strewn with superbly droll examples of Canadian tenacity. The maple leaf hit parade starts with the War of 1812 when British forces (somehow conflated to represent Canadians) led by General Robert Ross set fire to Washington DC, including the newly-built White House. Other hit singles include Lyndon Johnson telling Lester B. Pearson not to ‘piss on my rug’ when the latter suggested a halt to the Vietnam War, and Richard Nixon calling Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s father) a ‘pompous egghead’ and an ‘asshole’ after the latter attempted to explain the inextricable nature of cross-border supply chains.[14] These quarrels still rankle with our southern neighbours. Indeed, Trump himself rather hilariously underscored his ‘tariffs = security’ philosophy by citing Canada’s malevolent White House arson (probably to the ironic approval of most Canadians).

But the latest addition to this list arose at the G7 when Trudeau said simply that Canada (like other key US trade partners) would respond to Trump with proportionate tariffs of their own. Trump then conflated Canada, Canadian trade and the Prime Minister by suggesting that Trudeau “stabbed the US in the back” for having the temerity to even defend Canada against his aggressive trade measures, and cheekily suggesting to the leader of the free world that “Canada will not be pushed around”. Forget 1812. This is a new nadir for US-Canadian relations (predictable hockey allegory here). While the two countries have generally accepted that their relationship remain “as efficient and profitable as possible”, the fundamental trust and respect accompanying reliable, and progressive bilateralism has under Trump withered on the vine.[15]


The Lone North

Trudeau – and Canada as a whole – have had two nasty awakenings. First, however handsome and youthful you are, there’s no such thing as a Trump whisperer. The latter will do what the hell he likes, regardless of logic, evidence or the sound judgement of others. Second, only a minority of key US politicians can now be reliably included in Justin’s ‘Team Canada’ approach to cross-border relations. As Macmillan argues, “although there is little to suggest that his aggressive trade policy has spirited support within his party… Trump has seized on the duties as a weapon he can wield without needing congressional approval.”[16] Canada: you’re on your own.

Trudeau’s response that Canada won’t be bullied suggests that he’s got the message. About time? As Ling suggests, “for a country with a famously polite political and cultural reputation… it’s that reputation, more than anything, that’s in need of revision”.[17] We don’t need to be rude. Heavens, no. But we do need to stand our ground. Ling suggests that between now and the US mid-terms, Canada needs to prepare for “an end run around Trump” by lobbying congress and the US Treasury alike to scrap trade penalties. Agreed. I think Canada also needs to help dial down the security rhetoric, even if THEY started it. It may fall to the ‘True North’ to remind Trump of J.F. Kennedy’s tear-jerkingly famous words that “Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies.” I’m tempted to conclude that “those whom God has so joined together, let

[1] https://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/uktpo/2018/06/01/the-imposition-of-tariffs-by-the-usa-on-steel-and-aluminium/.

[2] http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4006_en.htm


[4] https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/45708/remarks-hrvp-federica-mogherini-following-eu-china-strategic-dialogue-wang-yi-chinas-state_en

[5] http://uk.businessinsider.com/trump-trade-war-tariffs-on-steel-aluminum-rattles-washington-2018-5

[6] https://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/uktpo/2018/06/01/the-imposition-of-tariffs-by-the-usa-on-steel-and-aluminium/.

[7] An irresistible by-line: the work of Justin Ling, in Foreign Policy, June 15, 2018: http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/15/no-more-mr-nice-canada/

[8] https://www.politico.eu/article/donald-trump-duties-steel-aluminum-global-trade-war/

[9] https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/05/30/ottawa-readying-its-options-as-nafta-and-tariff-talks-stall-with-us.html

[10] https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2018/06/10/special-place-in-hell-canada-us-relations-reach-new-low-as-trump-aides-heap-insults-on-trudeau-to-impress-kim-jong-un.html

[11] https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2018/jun/11/trump-canada-bully-trade-trudeau

[12] https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2018/jun/11/trump-canada-bully-trade-trudeau

[13] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/11/trump-canada-relationship-us

[14] http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/15/no-more-mr-nice-canada/

[15] http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/15/no-more-mr-nice-canada/

[16] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/11/trump-canada-relationship-us

[17] http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/06/15/no-more-mr-nice-canada/



Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency: The last great expansion?


On the 1st January 2018, Bulgaria assumed control of the EU Council Presidency for the first time since joining the European bloc in 2007. For the Black Sea Republic, the role allows it a crucial six month period to dominate European policy and political discourse. The EU Presidency has also taken place during an incredibly important year for Europe, where Brexit talks will need to be concluded to allow sufficient time to pass through the various legislatures necessary to prepare for Britain’s departure, in addition to talks around how to replace Britain’s significant contribution to the EU budget with one eye already on the upcoming elections in 2019 for President of the European Commission.


The former Communist state has set out four primary objectives for the Presidency; the future of Europe, improving relations/the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU, the digital Single Market, and security/stability, with a wide range goal but in particular on refugee policies. The six month stint will be carried out under the slogan ‘United we stand strong’, which follows on from Estonia’s ‘Unity through balance’.


Future of Europe

Much of this has been centred around the ongoing Brexit discussions. Prime Minister Boiko Borisov has previously advocated for a soft Brexit, and was the first leader of the EU27 states to break ranks and insist that a hard Brexit was not in anyone’s interest[i]. Unfortunately for Borisov, whilst some sections of the media saw his comments as a possible softening in the EU’s negotiating position, it has not thus far made an apparent difference in the talks. Britain remains on course for leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, with talks of a ‘No Deal’ scenario continuing to be mentioned by politicians[ii]. Rounding off the objective has included the preliminary discussions on how the EU’s budget will be spent from 2021-2027, with the European Commission proposing an increase in spending to €1.25 trillion, despite Britain’s impending withdrawal[iii]. With news emerging in the last few days that Britain has been invited to the discussion on how the proposed budget will be spent[iv], it once again highlights the growing tensions between member states on the future of Europe.


The Western Balkans

Since the European Union began expanding into the former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe in 2004, talk has often been centred around when Western Balkan states will be admitted into the European Union. The deadly Yugoslav Wars during the 1990s made things particularly difficult, although some of the contender states have struggled due to corruption and authoritarian stances over the media amongst other issues. Yet, Bulgaria, which has historically enjoyed a mixed-yet-close relationship with the former Yugoslav states, has been keen to push the issue. This led the European Commission to declare that the earliest that the next round of expansion would take place is 2025[v], although this is seen as unlikely as the most likely state to be admitted, Serbia, continues to delay resolving issues with the contested state of Kosovo. In addition, Spain’s refusal to attend the recent summit in Sofia shows that the road to EU membership is far from assured[vi]. However, Bulgaria’s hard work on the issue has forced meetings and concession to take place, and make the goal of European Union membership for Western Balkan states seem just that little bit more realistic, aided by the recent Sofia Declaration on 17th May 2018[vii].


The digital Single Market

In recent years, the European Union has pushed for the creation of the digital Single Market, with the objective of placing Europe at the centre of digital development in the coming decades. Part of this objective for Bulgaria’s EU presidency came in July 2017, when Mariya Gabriel was nominated to be the EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society after her predecessor, Kristalina Georgieva, left the European Commission to become CEO of the World Bank. Gabriel seemed a natural choice for Borisov; a young, ambitious MEP since 2009 that was well liked and chosen twice as ‘MEP of the year’ in 2013 and 2016 respectively. Unfortunately, she has come in for much criticism over the last few months for being unable to push through necessary changes for the digital Single Market, and in particular, how the roll out of 5G across the continent in the next decade will be financed[viii]. Most of the criticism faced her way has been over the soft-handed approach she has applied, being unable to force things through like Georgieva in the past. However, some successes in the telecoms industry has meant that the objective has not been a complete bust for Bulgaria, and it will remain optimistic going forward that Gabriel will find her feet and bring in the necessary changes.



Showing the growing rise of populism and authorism across Central and Eastern Europe, Bulgaria’s Government has become increasingly hard line on security issues. Part of this has been influenced by the makeup of Bulgaria’s coalition government, with the minority member, the United Patriots, comprised of a coalition of three right-wing, populist parties. However, some of the posturing from the Government predates the formation of the coalition in 2017, as seen in 2015 when Borisov ordered the construction of a wired fence along the border with Turkey, largely funded by the EU[ix]. Bulgaria’s tough stance on migration is believed to be partly motivated by its desire to join the Schengen Area, which has previously been vetoed by states such as the Netherlands due to concerns over illegal immigration and smuggling[x]. Therefore, Bulgaria placing security concerns as one of its objectives has been largerly motivated by self-interest, although does represent some genuine concerns across the Central and Eastern Europe membership of migrants. However, there has been no major breakthrough on this issue to date.


Overall, Bulgaria’s EU Presidency has laid an ambitious but mostly achievable targets. It was always unlikely that there would be a major breakthrough in the Brexit talks at this stage, and instead, all eyes will roll-over to Austria in July when it becomes the next EU Council President. However, its work on the digital Single Market, aided in part by Estonia which placed a ‘Digital Europe’ as one of its themes in the proceeding Presidency[xi], and on the Western Balkans, shows that it is a state that is gradually beginning to find its voice in a post-Cold War Europe. It remains to be seen what the legacy will ultimately be of Bulgaria’s EU Council Presidency, but the Black Sea Republic will be desperately hoping that it will ultimately have delivered a lasting impact on EU policy that each Council Presidency promises, but so rarely delivers.


Rating of the objectives of the Presidency

Future of Europe: D

The Western Balkans: B

The digital Single Market: D

Security/Stability: C


Overall rating of Presidency: C


For more information on Bulgaria EU’s Council Presidency, visit https://eu2018bg.bg/en/home

[i] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/24/britain-headed-hard-brexit-bulgarian-prime-minister-says/

[ii] https://www.ft.com/content/23663bc4-619e-11e8-90c2-9563a0613e56

[iii] https://www.ft.com/content/e4aa3004-4d5a-11e8-97e4-13afc22d86d4

[iv] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/brussels-and-brexiteers-united-in-anger-over-budget-extension-t80hsc7p2

[v] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/06/serbia-and-montenegro-could-join-eu-in-2025-says-brussels

[vi] https://www.politico.eu/article/johannes-hahn-mariano-rajoy-emmanuel-macron-balkan-enlargement-spain-france-upset-brussels-balkan-plans/

[vii] http://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/34776/sofia-declaration_en.pdf

[viii] https://www.politico.eu/article/mariya-gabriel-digital-single-market-on-the-rocks/

[ix] https://www.euscoop.com/en/2017/8/31/more-funding-for-border-fence

[x] https://www.ft.com/content/dd7dfaea-e51f-11e0-9aa8-00144feabdc0

[xi] https://www.canterbury.ac.uk/social-and-applied-sciences/psychology-politics-and-sociology/cefeus/jean-monnet/jean-monnet-blogs/Estonia’s-EU-Council-Presidency-The-Needed-Push-for-a-Digital-Europe.aspx

***UPDATED*** Professor Amelia Hadfield’s Inaugural Lecture: Reform, Rework or Reject? Charting Britain’s European Future

Professor Amelia Hadfield, Jean Monnet Professor and Director of the Centre for European Studies (CEFEUS) at Canterbury Christ Church University, will give her inaugural professorial lecture “Reform, Rework or Reject? Charting Britain’s European Future”.

The lecture will take place 18 January 2018, 6pm, Michael Berry Lecture Theatre, Old Sessions House, Longport, Canterbury CT1 1QU.

The event is open to the public and free of charge.

Please register by emailing theresa.gadsby-bourner@canterbury.ac.uk


We are excited to announce that the inaugural lecture will be preceded by a “Brush Up Your Brexit” Roundtable featuring a range of distinguished speakers including Professor Mark Hammond (CCCU) as Chair and Stephen Fidler (Wall Street Journal as Moderator) as well as Professor Michael Bruter (LSE), Professor Andrej Zwitter (Groningen) Dr Kathryn Simpson (Manchester Metropolitan) and Dr Benjamin Martill (LSE).

Time Item
16:00-17:00 Brush Up Your Brexit Roundtable

(Old Sessions House, Of50)

17:15-18:00 Wine Reception

(Old Sessions House, Foyer)

18:00-19:00 Inaugural Lecture

(Old Sessions House, Michael Berry Lecture Theatre)

Professor Amelia Hadfield on CRS FM Radio’s “Dear Reader” programme

Professor Amelia Hadfield, Director of CEFEUS, appeared on the most recent episode of ‘Dear Reader’ on CSR FM. Hosted by Jessica Stone, the broadcast saw Professor Hadfield speak about 3 books which she felt were significant: Iris Murdoch’s The Nice and the Good, Adam Nicolson’s The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters and finally, Mark Landler’s Alter Egos: Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle over American Power.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Jess, Amelia discussed the rehabilitation of murder-mysteries; the role of memory and the hero in crafting both classic and modern identities; why personalised concepts of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ is only the starting point for studying foreign policy; the folly and necessity of war; the pursuit of power; as well as the literary and philosophical underpinnings of modern politics, and why this matter for our understanding of European, American and British foreign policy.

The broadcast can be listened to here:

We are not sheep: A student response to the Daily Mail

Ned Watkinson, one of the winners of our Jean Monnet Chair’s ‘Blog on Europe Competition‘, responds to Eleanor Harding and Tom Witherow who singled out his blog post in their Daily Mail article but not only misrepresented his point but also failed to comprehend that students are not sheep that can be ‘brainwashed’ by their lecturers.

The recent Daily Mail article, as a proxy justification to the recent actions of Chris Heaton-Harris MP, accuses university lecturers of marking down students who write pro Brexit essays. They cited Canterbury Christ Church’s Jean Monnet blog contest as an example, stating that “Ten of the 12 winning entries were pro EU, one was Neutral, and only one- talking about the EU’s failure to intervene in Catalonia – was negative”.

As the student responsible for writing the “only one” negative EU blog post, I would like to correct Eleanor Harding and Tom Witherow who seem to have entirely missed the point of my piece. Being critical about certain EU policies does not mean I hold the EU in a negative light as the article states.

In addition, to include my piece under a subheading titled “top prizes go to remainers” is disingenuous and I resent my work being used in such a fashion. If the editors of The Daily Mail had read my piece they would know that as it has no content related to Brexit whatsoever. Regarding said subheading, as Professor Amelia Hadfield corrected the Daily Mail, we as students are under no pressure to write positive essays. The Jean Monnet funding is not given for writing about the positive aspects of the EU, but objective and analytical teaching and research on Europe.

I will also take a moment to clarify: the attempt by Heaton-Harris to create a ‘hit list’ of university lecturers personal political stance is in equal parts horrifying and contemptible. It is pleasing that he was so quickly rebutted by academics, officials and members of his own party. Academic freedom is enshrined in law, to explore ideas and events free from government intervention.

The assumption underpinning this entire debate, and the request by Heaton Harris, is that students are easy to manipulate and mislead. This is not a new phenomenon; when Sir Julian Brazier lost Canterbury after being its MP for 30 years, he blamed his loss on Labours promises to ‘naïve young people’. A statement showing a lack of cognisance and a less than graceful defeat. It is very sad that it has become the norm to think universities are creating brainwashed pro-remain students. It is sad that this discourse is commonplace, and is used as a shield from criticism. If you seek to brainwash a population, you don’t start with universities. As students we are, by nature, critical, self-driven and independently minded. I would also like to state that I am not a fresher. I am a third-year politics student, and so were many others who wrote blogs for the competition. I have studied the EU in modules and independent study in my first and second years, and I have spent the best part of three years studying politics and international relations. I am entitled to have my work free from this insinuation that I have been brainwashed by my lecturers, I am entitled to be taken seriously. The Mail is more welcome to contact me to discuss the meaning of my piece, and my personal conclusions from my studies, free from university interference.

It is no secret that the majority of young people voted to remain in the EU, so what is more likely: That every anti-Brexit or pro-EU article written by students results from systematic brainwashing, or that students see for themselves that there is some truth to the notion that we stand to lose more than we gain by leaving the European Union?! If politicians, newspapers and older generations, choose to ignore and dismiss the opinions of the next generation, they are digging themselves into a hole. Then they are in a far better position to stick their heads into the sand while the world goes to buggery. No matter how abhorrent the political situation gets, and how those in power try to curtail freedom of speech and expression, we will not be intimidated, we will not be dismissed. We are not sheep.


The blog posts of Ned Watkinson and the other winners of the Jean Monnet ‘Blog on Europe’ competition can be found here.

Professor Amelia Hadfield’s reponses to the letter by Chris Heaton-Harris and to the Daily Mail article can be found here:

“Safeguarding Academic Freedom: A Response to Mr Heaton-Harris”

“Professor Hadfield’s reponse to Daily Mail Article”