The Constitution Unit


The Constitution Unit News

Meg Russell gives evidence to Canadian Senate 

Constitution Unit director Professor Meg Russell has given invited oral evidence, for a second time, to the Canadian Senate Committee on Senate Modernization.

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Unit invites applicants for Leverhulme postdoctoral fellowships

The Constitution Unit would like to encourage academically-excellent candidates to propose projects to pursue with us as a postdoctoral fellow, linked to forthcoming funding opportunities from the Leverhulme Trust.

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New book, "Developments in British Politics Ten"

Unit Director Meg Russell is one of the co-editors of the latest edition of the well-established and well-respected Developments in British Politics series, recently published by Palgrave. The book, targeted at advanced undergraduate/postgraduate students and interested general readers provides up-to-date summaries by leading scholars of many of the key aspects of British politics. Both Meg Russell and Unit Deputy Director Alan Renwick have chapters in the volume.

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Unit in the News: Processes of Brexit

Constitution Unit members have appeared frequently in the media in recent weeks to discuss the processes that will be involved if the UK is to leave the European Union following the referendum on 23 June:

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Video of UCL's restructured EU Referendum Debate

Following the shocking murder yesterday afternoon of the MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, campaigning for the EU referendum was suspended.  The planned UCL EU Referendum Debate, which had been due to feature leading figures from both campaigns, was therefore changed into a Meet the Experts Q&A.  A panel of academics with expertise in the politics and economics of the EU and the processes around the referendum answered a wide range of questions from audience members.  The panellists were:

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Unit publishes new briefing paper on Brexit and its Consequences for other Member States

On 2 June, the Constitution Unit hosted its fourth Brexit seminar. Our panellists – Brian O’Connell, UK Consultant Director of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, Sara Hagemann, Assistant Professor at the LSE European Institute, Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska, Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform, and Alan Posener, Correspondent on Politics and Society for Die Welt – discussed the impact that Brexit would have on the other EU member states. 

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Unit publishes new Briefing Paper on Brexit and its consequences for Devolution and the Union

On 19 May, the Constitution Unit hosted its third Brexit seminar. Our panellists Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Queen Mary University of London, Professor Jim Gallagher of Nuffield College, Oxford, Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, University of Ulster, and Dr Rachel Minto, Cardiff University discussed the impact that Brexit would have on Devolution and the Union. This briefing paper, written by Robert Hazell and Alan Renwick, explores this topic in further depth. It opens by explaining that public opinion is much more pro-EU in Scotland and Northern Ireland than in England and Wales; this creates the possibility of a divided, and divisive, referendum result if the different nations in the UK vote in different ways. The paper then discusses the process of withdrawal, how the devolved nations would be represented during the Brexit negotiations, and whether a vote for Brexit would trigger a second independence referendum in Scotland. It concludes by considering the long term policy consequences of Brexit, in terms of the scope for greater policy differentiation between the different nations of the UK, and the scope for the devolved nations to develop different relationships with the EU.

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Press Release: Scotland, Wales and Ireland point to how governments should be formed in hung Parliaments

In their recent elections Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland all saw the return of a hung Parliament in which no party gained an overall majority. Under their constitutions the first business of the newly elected Parliament is to elect the head of the new government. That is what happened in Ireland on 6 May, and this week in Scotland on 17 May and in Wales on 18 May. In a new report published today by the Constitution Unit at UCL and the Department of Politics at Oxford University the authors suggest that is what should also happen at Westminster. Instead of the Queen having to decide who should be Prime Minister before Parliament meets, the first business of a newly elected House of Commons should be to select the Prime Minister, who would then be formally appointed by the Queen.

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Unit publishes new briefing paper on Brexit and its Consequences for the EU’s Political System

On 5 May, the Constitution Unit hosted its second Brexit seminar. Our panellists - Kenneth Armstrong, Professor of European Law (Cambridge), Simon Hix, Professor of Political Science (LSE) and Sir Stephen Wall, former UK Permanent Representative to the European Union - discussed the impact that Brexit would have on the EU and its political system.

This briefing paper, written by Oliver Patel and Christine Reh, explores this topic in further depth. Drawing on the seminar, it outlines the UK's contribution to the EU and argues that Brexit would have a significant impact on the EU's political system. In the short-term, British disengagement could undermine initiatives such as TTIP and the Capital Markets Union. In the long-term, Brexit would change the EU’s balance of power.  It is particularly likely to strengthen protectionist forces and social democrats. However, Germany’s position could also be strengthened. It is also likely to undermine the EU's foreign policy ambitions.

The paper is part of a wider project on the UK and the EU. The project consists of a series of seminars, with each seminar followed by a briefing paper and video on the same topic. There are two more seminars and briefing papers, as well as a major debate, prior to the referendum, details of which can be found here.

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