The Constitution Unit


Opinion pieces

Published opinion pieces and letters authored by researchers of the Constitution Unit.
Meg Russell

Adviser on integrity

Meg Russell joins Daniel Bruce (Transparency International), Susan Hawley (Spotlight on Corruption), Dave Penman (FDA) & Hannah White (Institute for Government) in this letter to the Times, urging Prime Minister to appoint an Independent Adviser on Ministers' Interests, and to strengthen the scope of the role in line with CSPL recommendations.

The Times | 3 December 2022

Meg Russell

'Baroque' leadership rules and cabinet changes

Following the fall of Liz Truss and installation of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister, Meg Russell authored a letter in the Times arguing that the episode demonstrates that membership ballots risks instability. 

The Times | 26 October 2022

Alan Renwick headshot

No 10’s Brexit posturing is dicing with disaster in Northern Ireland.

Following the results of the Northern Ireland Assembly elections, in this lead letter to the Sunday Times, Professor Alan Renwick stresses that constructive engagement from London will be needed to restore power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

The Times (£) | 10 May 2022

Alan Renwick headshot

Commons Cause

In the lead up to the local elections, Professor Alan Renwick argues that Boris Johnson's fate should not be determined by the outcome. As Constitution Unit research shows, one politician lying erodes public trust in all, so public disapproval cannot be gauged by how many votes shift between parties. It is up to MPs to act.

The Times (£) | 24 April 2022

Alan Renwick headshot

Electoral Fairness

Prior to a House of Lords vote on proposals to change how the Electoral Commission is governed, Professor Alan Renwick, along with Robert Blackburn, Kate Dommett, Justin Fischer, and Sam Power, urge peers to reject the proposal to add a 'Strategy and Policy statement' setting out how the Commission should operate.

The Times (£) | 22 April 2022

Meg Russell headshot

Parties scandal and calls for the PM to resign

The Prime Minister and Chancellor have broken the Ministerial Code, writes Professor Meg Russell in this letter for the Times. Both are resigning matters, but the keeper of the code is the PM himself. In the absence of compliance it falls to MPs to act. 

The Times (£) | 14 April 2022

Alan Renwick headshot

British voters want lying politicians to face consequences – new study

Commenting on the latest Constitution Unit findings on public attitudes towards democracy in the UK, Professor Alan Renwick outlines the key conclusions of the Citizens' Assembly on democracy in the UK, which confirmed that integrity and honesty in politics are of great concern to the public. This means that there is a desire to see ministers kept in constant check by parliament, courts and the public at large.

The Conversation | 7 April 2022

Alan Renwick headshot

Voters value honesty in their politicians above all else – new study

In the wake of 'partygate' allegations, Professor Alan Renwick discusses major new findings on public attitudes towards democracy in the UK. The results of a large-scale survey of the UK population show that integrity and 'being honest' are among the most valued qualities in a politician.

The Conversation | 26 January 2022

Alan Renwick & Conor Kelly

How might Irish unification be decided?

If a referendum on Irish unification ever takes place, how should it be designed and conducted?  Alan Renwick and Conor J. Kelly explore the issue of Irish unification from the perspective of how best to plan for a possible future referendum.

The Loop | 11 December 2022

Headshot of Meg Russell

Marginalised MPs

Parliament's marginalisation by the government during the pandemic has been 'shocking', writes Professor Meg Russell; Dr Ruth Fox, Hansard Society; Dr Ronan Cormacain, Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law; and Dr Joe Tomlinson, University of York and Public Law Project, in a letter to The Times.

The Times (£) | 21 April 2021

Alan Renwick and Meg Russell

Scottish independence referendum options

In the lead letter to The Times, Professors Alan Renwick and Meg Russell explain that Scotland has a right to a referendum if voters want one, and such a referendum needn't be between binary choices. 

The Times (£) | 24 February 2021

Meg Russell headshot

It’s time for MPs to take back control of the Commons

The government’s level of control over what is debated in the House of Commons, and when, undermines parliamentary accountability and needs addressing urgently, argues Professor Meg Russell, joint author of a new report on the issue.

Times Red Box (£)19 January 2021

Meg Russell headshot

Democracy at Risk

In the wake of the storming of the Capitol in Washington DC, Professor Meg Russell warns that if senior political figures in the UK fail to respect, uphold, and celebrate constitutional rules, they risk undermining the legitimacy of core institutions of democracy. 

The Times (£)11 January 2021

Bob Morris and Robert Hazell headshot

What’s the secret of modern monarchy’s survival?

Professor Robert Hazell and Dr Bob Morris write an op-ed on the findings from their new book, The Role of Monarchy in Modern Democracy: European Monarchies Compared, which discusses the royal family in modern society.

Times Red Box (£) | 28 September 2020 

Meg Russell headshot

How a virtual parliament should work

Professor Meg Russell, Director of the Unit, and Dr Ruth Fox, Director of the Hansard Society, set out some key principles for a virtual parliament during the coronavirus pandemic.

Conservative Home16 April 2020