Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science

Language Selection

Breadcrumb Navigation


Take it and leave it! A postfunctionalist bargaining approach to the Brexit negotiations

Dr. des. Felix Biermann and Dr. Stefan Jagdhuber in "West European Politics"


At first sight, the Brexit negotiations appear erratic. The UK and the EU invested two years in negotiating an agreement, which failed three times in the British parliament. How to explain this? This article argues that Brexit is a case of an overarching trend, and offers a rationalist, situation-structural approach to analysing politicised bargains. In this new European reality of a constraining dissensus, governments must ensure domestic support and international assertiveness in parallel. Politicised bargains play out as nested games, in which tied hands are not a strategy but rather a necessary given. Theresa May was forced to play such parallel and overlapping, nested games as she was pressurised by both the EU and Brexiteers. Negotiations unfolded in two phases, corresponding to two situation structures: the negotiation phase resembled a nested chicken game. The preliminary Withdrawal Agreement was a game-changer and the subsequent ratification phase, structured as a nested Rambo game, presented May with irreconcilable demands.

The article can be found here