The Constitution Unit


General Election 2019: Manifesto summaries

This is a summary of the key constitutional pledges in the 2019 party manifestos.

This list does not include the more well-known policies pertaining to Brexit, and it does not include the pledges made in the manifestos of the Northern-Irish parties.


  • ‘Local people will continue to have the final say on council tax, being able to veto excessive rises’ (p. 28)
  • ‘We remain committed to devolving power to people and places across the UK. Our ambition is for full devolution across England, building on the successful devolution of powers to city region mayors, Police and Crime Commissioners and others, so that every part of our country has the power to shape its own destiny. We will publish an English Devolution White Paper setting out our plans next year’ (p. 29)
  • ‘We will continue to work with all sides to re-establish the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly so that the people of Northern Ireland can enjoy the full advantages of devolved government for the benefit of the whole community.’ (p. 44)
  • ‘We are opposed to a second independence referendum and stand with the majority of people in Scotland, who do not want to return to division and uncertainty.’ (p. 45)
  • ‘We will get rid of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – it has led to paralysis at a time the country needed decisive action.’ (p. 48)
  • ‘We will ensure we have updated and equal Parliamentary boundaries, making sure that every vote counts the same – a cornerstone of democracy.’ (p. 48)
  • ‘We will maintain the voting age at 18 – the age at which one gains full citizenship rights.’ (p. 48)
  • ‘We will continue to support the First Past the Post system of voting, as it allows voters to kick out politicians who don’t deliver, both locally and nationally.’ (p. 48)
  • ‘We will protect the integrity of our democracy, by introducing identification to vote at polling stations, stopping postal vote harvesting and measures to prevent any foreign interference in elections.’ (p. 48)
  • ‘After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people.’ (p. 48)
  • ‘We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government.’ (p. 48)
  • ‘In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.’ (p. 48)


  • ‘For many people, politics doesn’t work. The Westminster bubble is a world away from their daily lives’ (p. 81)
  • ‘We want our political institutions to be connected fully to the wider electorate, and will take urgent steps to refresh our democracy.’ (p. 81)
  • ‘We will act immediately to end the hereditary principle in the House of Lords, and work to abolish the House of Lords in favour of Labour’s preferred option of an elected Senate of the Nations and Regions, but we also believe that the people must be central to historic political changes.’ (p. 81)
  • ‘The renewal of our Parliament will be subject to recommendations made by a UK-wide Constitutional Convention, led by a citizens’ assembly. This Convention will answer crucial questions on how power is distributed in the UK today, how nations and regions can best relate to each other and how a Labour government can best put power in the hands of the people.’ (p. 81)
  • ‘Only a Labour government will safeguard the future of a devolved UK, reforming the way in which it works to make it fit for the future.’ (p. 82)
  • ‘Britain is one of the most centralised countries in Europe. Labour will decentralise decision-making and strengthen local democracy. We reiterate our commitment to One Yorkshire, and will make directly elected mayors more accountable to local councillors and elected representatives. We will re-establish regional Government Offices to make central government more attuned to our English regions, to support our regional investments, and to enable the shift of political power away from Westminster.’ (p. 82)
  • ‘A Labour government will repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which has stifled democracy and propped up weak governments.’ (p. 82)
  • ‘We will oversee the largest extension of the franchise in generations, reducing the voting age to 16, giving full voting rights to all UK residents, making sure everyone who is entitled to vote can do so by introducing a system of automatic voter registration, and abandoning plans to introduce voter ID which has been shown to harm democratic rights.’ (p. 82)
  • ‘Labour will change how politics is funded, banning donations from tax avoiders and tax evaders, and closing loopholes that allow the use of shell companies to funnel dark money into politics. We will free the voices of civil society by repealing the Lobbying Act 2014 and overhauling the rules that govern corporate lobbying. We will introduce a lobbying register covering both in-house lobbyists and think tanks and extending to contacts made with all senior government employees, not just ministers. We will also increase the financial penalties available to the Electoral Commission and require imprints for digital political adverts. We will stop MPs from taking paid second jobs, with limited exemptions to maintain professional registrations like nursing. We will replace ACOBA, the business appointments committee, with a sufficiently resourced and empowered new body, governed by a diverse and representative board and established in law. We will also overhaul the system of ministerial appointments to public office. We will bring greater transparency by extending Freedom of Information rules to cover private providers of public services, setting new standards of consistent disclosure practice and ending the six-month time limit in which the Information Commissioner can prosecute the deliberate destruction of public records.’ (p. 82)
  • ‘Labour will work quickly and tirelessly to secure the return of a genuine powersharing government in Northern Ireland.’ (p. 83)
  • ‘Labour’s constitutional convention will include the Welsh Government’s 20-point plan for the future of the UK to better recognise the realities of a devolved UK.’ (p. 83)
  • ‘Labour believes that Scottish independence would be economically devastating and it would be the many not the few who would pay the price. Scotland needs the transformative investment coming from a Labour government, not another referendum and not independence.’ ‘…in the early years of a UK Labour government we will not agree to a Section 30 order request if it comes from the Scottish Government.’ (p. 85)
  • Scottish Labour manifesto: ‘Labour will also consider how intergovernmental and interparliamentary relations work inside the UK. The Brexit process has shown the current haphazard arrangements are unfit for purpose. They are both hierarchical and unbalanced.’ ‘A federal system could be built on a principle of co-determination, of shared powers based on partnership, not hierarchy. It would allow both subsidiarity and solidarity. Based on a charter of rights with minimum standards below which no part of the UK could fall.’ (p. 99)

Liberal Democrats:

  • ‘Liberal Democrats have a plan to radically transform our political system so that it works for a modern democracy. A plan that will mend our broken politics so that we can get on with building a fairer society that protects our planet.’ (p. 79)

‘Our priorities in the next parliament will be:

  • Giving people a voice with a fair voting system so that everyone’s vote counts equally, letting people vote at the first election or referendum after they turn 16 and giving votes to all British citizens abroad and to EU citizens who have made the UK their long-term home.
  • Embarking on a radical redistribution of power away from Westminster to the nations, regions and local authorities, giving power to communities to hold local services to account and decide how their taxes are raised and spent.
  • Introducing a written constitution for a federal United Kingdom.’ (p. 79)

‘The current voting system is not working: it means that too many people do not have their voices heard. Liberal Democrats are the only party that realises that the system is broken and will change it so that it works for the future: Labour and Conservatives will not change the system that has always entrenched their privileged position. We understand that British politics needs to be reformed to make it more representative and empower citizens. We will:

  • Put an end to wasted votes, by introducing proportional representation through the Single Transferable Vote for electing MPs, and local councillors in England.
  • Give 16- and 17-year olds the right to vote in elections and referendums.
  • Scrap the plans to require voters to bring identification with them to vote.
  • Reform the House of Lords with a proper democratic mandate.
  • Enabling Parliament, rather than the Queen-in-Council, to approve when parliament is prorogued and for how long.
  • Ensure that a new Prime Minister, and their programme for government, must win a confidence vote of MPs.’ (p. 80)

‘Communities should be empowered to have maximum control over their local services. Liberal Democrats are the only party with a vision for the future: Labour’s instinct is towards centralisation and taking power from communities; the Conservatives’ cuts to local government budgets have led to a huge reduction in services. We will drive a devolution revolution to give power to people and communities and help fund the services that people need. We will:

  • Decentralise decision-making from Whitehall and Westminster, by inviting local areas to take control of the services that matter to them most.
  • Give democratic local government enhanced powers to call on new income sources appropriate to their area to support local services and investment.
  • Devolve further revenue-raising powers away from Westminster, to regions from Cornwall to North East England. We will legislate to empower groups of authorities to come together to establish devolved governance and ensure that any powers devolved are matched by the funding to deliver on the needs of local people.
  • Devolve more decision-making power over key levers of economic development including transport, energy, housing and skills.’ (p. 82)

‘A well-functioning democracy should have a high standard of public debate in which: citizens are supported, educated and empowered to distinguish between facts and lies; there is a pluralistic media environment where journalists have the resources they need to fnd the truth and to hold the powerful to account; civility in public discourse is protected; election procedures and rules are upheld robustly and quickly. However, these foundations of our democratic way of life are under threat. Liberal Democrats are the only party forward-looking enough to do what it takes to foster high quality public debate. We will:

  • Establish UK and local citizens’ assemblies to ensure that the public are fully engaged in fnding solutions to the greatest challenges we face, such as tackling the climate emergency and the use of artifcial intelligence and algorithms by the state.
  • Work towards radical real-time transparency for political advertising, donations and spending, including an easily-searchable public database of all online political adverts.
  • Make algorithms used by the data companies available for close inspection by regulators acting for democratically elected governments, along with access for regulators to the programmers responsible for designing and operating them.
  • Review the need for any election safeguarding legislation that is needed to respond to emerging challenges of the internet age, such as foreign interference in elections.’ (pp. 82-3)

‘Liberal Democrats want home rule for each of the nations of a strong, federal and united United Kingdom. We have a proud record of leading the way on giving greater powers to Scotland and Wales. We will not allow Brexit to reverse devolution and will oppose attempts to use Brexit to go back to the past when powers were hoarded at Westminster. We will champion a federal future for the UK.

Our plans for a written, federal constitution will include a permanent Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales and we will take forward practical steps to ensure that Scotland and Wales both have strong voices in the future of the family of nations. We will:

  • Extend the involvement of the Scottish Government and Welsh Government in the development of UK-wide policy frameworks.
  • Establish a dispute resolution process to resolve differences between the administrations.’ (83-4)

‘In addition to the steps to ensure Scotland has a strong voice within the UK, we will:

  • Work hard to ensure that Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom. We will oppose a second independence referendum and oppose independence.
  • Allocate to the Scottish Parliament all of the powers set out in the Scotland Act 2016, many of which have already been used by the Scottish Parliament, with others awaiting the request of the Scottish Government.’ (p. 84)

‘For Wales, a federal UK will mean a truly equal family of nations, ensuring that every part of this union has a voice, backed up by real, meaningful devolution. We will work to create a Wales that is able to shape its own destiny as part of a strong United Kingdom playing a leading role within the EU.’ (p. 85)

‘We wish to see a permanently peaceful Northern Ireland, with stable devolved government and a truly shared society. Northern Ireland and its institutions rely on sharing and interdependence, but Brexit has already increased tensions and risks new divisions, barriers and friction. We will:

  • Work constructively with the political parties in Northern Ireland and the Irish Government to urgently restore the devolved institutions.’ (p. 86)

‘Devolution of power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has implications for the UK parliament and its dual role in legislating for England as well as the federal UK. Liberal Democrats support an English-only stage in legislation affecting England, so that English MPs can have a separate say on laws that only affect England. However, this should be on a proportional basis, genuinely reflecting the balance of opinion in England.

In some areas of England there is a greater appetite for powers, but not every part of the country wants to move at the same speed and there cannot be a one-size fts-all approach. All areas should however have access to the same opportunities and mayoral authorities should not be ranked higher in terms of the powers with which they can be granted. We will enact permissive legislation to empower groups of authorities to come together to establish devolved governance – for example to a Cornish Assembly or a Yorkshire Parliament, building on the One Yorkshire campaign. We will proceed by consensus as far as possible but will not allow one local authority to veto a coherent proposal.’ (p. 86)


    • ‘There is a clear mandate to hold a referendum on independence during the current term of the Scottish Parliament. Scotland has already voted for it but Westminster has so far refused to respect that mandate.’ (p. 10)
    • ‘The people of Scotland have the right to choose their own future in a new referendum on becoming an independent country.’
    • ‘It must be for the Scottish Parliament not Westminster to decide when a independence referendum should be held - and the SNP intends that it will be in 2020.’ (p. 10)
    • ‘We will back the replacement of the first-past-the post system with the Single Transferable Vote, a system that makes sure every vote and every part of the country counts.’ (p. 43).
    • ‘SNP MPs will continue to oppose the undemocratic House of Lords and vote for its abolition.’ (p. 43)
    • ‘We trust our young people. That’s why we have extended the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds in Scottish Parliament and local government elections. We believe that these young citizens have the right to have their voice heard at Westminster too and will back giving 16 and 17-year-olds a vote in all elections.’ (p. 43)
    • ‘While Scotland is enfranchising EU citizens, the UK still refuses to do so. SNP MPs will work to extend the franchise for Westminster elections to include EU citizens and all those with a right to remain in the UK – as we are doing in Scotland.’ (p. 43)

    Plaid Cymru:

    • ‘Plaid Cymru believes that Wales should become an independent member of the European Union. We want to forge a new relationship with the other countries of these islands based on equality. This will be made all the more urgent in the event of the UK leaving the EU. Our aim is to achieve these objectives by 2030, and before then if circumstances allow.’ (p. 54)
    • ‘…we will press for the devolution of financial powers to the Senedd, plus the transfer of justice, economic development, welfare and culture powers that are currently reserved to Westminster.’ (p. 54)
    • ‘The Brexit crisis has demonstrated that Westminster is broken, and the people of Wales are paying the price. We are best served by our own National Parliament – the Senedd which is more inclusive and more representative than Westminster.’ (p. 80)
    • ‘Plaid Cymru is committed to overhauling the Westminster voting system, getting rid of First-Past-the-Post and turning it into a parliament elected under the Single Transferable Vote proportional system, in which all votes count equally.’ (p. 80)
    • ‘Plaid Cymru supports reform of the House of Lords so that it becomes a directly elected upper chamber representing the regions of England, and so long as they remain part of the UK state, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.’ (p. 80)
    • ‘We will lead efforts to extend the right to vote to sixteen and seventeen-year-olds for Westminster elections, and we will campaign to give EU citizens and all those with permanent residency the right to vote in all elections.’ (p. 80)
    • ‘Plaid Cymru believes that, with the exception of binding international treaties, the decision to go to war should require the support of all four nations and we demand that a vote is held in the Senedd prior to any UK-supported military intervention in foreign affairs.’ (p. 84)

    Green Party:

    • ‘Brexit laid bare the extent to which our governance structures are derelict, but our democracy has been broken for a long time. The First Past the Post voting system means that often more than half of all votes cast simply don’t count. The House of Lords gives power to people who have never been elected and our political representation doesn’t reflect the diversity and reality of the modern UK. We are one of the most centralised countries in Europe, with disproportionate power held at Westminster, and far too little in our regions and local authorities.’ (p. 35)
    • ‘We want an active democracy in which we can all believe and trust. We think it’s time for every vote to always count and for citizens’ assemblies to develop a written People’s Constitution and explore how as a country we can ensure the fair redistribution of power.’ (p. 35)
    • We will:

    • ‘Replace the First Past the Post system for parliamentary elections with a fair and proportional voting system.’ (p. 35)
    • ‘Replace the First Past the Post system for local government with a fair and proportional voting system. Voters will be asked to elect half the Council every two years to ensure that fast changing local concerns and priorities can be expressed at the ballot box on a regular basis.’ (p. 35)
    • ‘Create a fully elected House of Lords. Members will be elected for a maximum of ten years with half of the house being elected every 5 years.’ (p. 35)
    • ‘Give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote and have a say on their future. We will also allow people to stand for Parliament and all other elected offices from the age of 16, offering support to elected young people so that they can combine their duties with studying.’ (p. 35)
    • ‘Remove the cap on fines that can be imposed by the Electoral Commission on political parties that have been found to have breached electoral law.’ (p. 36)
    • ‘Introduce a Digital Bill of Rights that establishes the UK as a leading voice on standards for the rule of law and democracy in digital spaces and ensure independent regulation of social media providers. This legislation will safeguard elections by responding to the challenges of foreign interference, social media and declining confidence in democracy.’ (p. 36)
    • ‘Back a Citizens Convention and citizens assemblies to examine further ways to strengthen democracy, including developing a written People’s Constitution and Bill of Rights, and ensure the proposals come before Parliament. This will enshrine genuine democracy at the core of our political system, making sure that ultimate power will always rest with the people.’ (p. 37)
    • ‘Give fuller voice to regional and national identities, holding a referendum on a Cornish Assembly and increasing the powers of the current National Assembly for Wales.’ (p. 37)
    • ‘Transform how Parliament works with electronic voting, measures to protect against filibustering, steps to promote cross-party and cooperative working, and a systematic overhaul of parliamentary language to make it self-explanatory.’ (p. 39)
    • ‘We will choose to devolve real power from central to local government, giving councils the tools needed to deliver public services.’ (p. 40)

    Brexit Party:

    ‘The way the political Establishment has conspired to frustrate democracy over Brexit has highlighted the need for fundamental political reform. The Brexit Party can deliver real democratic change because we are not part of the Westminster status quo. It is now time for a debate on a written constitution. We pledge to:


    • Reform the voting system to make it more representative.
    • Abolish the unelected House of Lords.
    • Make MPs who switch parties subject to recall petitions.
    • Overhaul the postal voting system to combat fraud and abuse.
    • Reform the Supreme Court – judges who play a role in politics must be subject to political scrutiny. Ensure political balance by broadening participation in the Selection Commission or conduct interviews by Parliamentary Committee.
    • Make the Civil Service more accountable to the public – we would require civil servants to sign an oath to act with political neutrality.
    • Phase out the BBC licence fee.
    • Require Universities to incorporate an obligation to protect legal free speech.

    Introduce Citizens’ Initiatives to allow people to call referendums, subject to a 5m threshold of registered voter signatures and time limitations on repeat votes.’