The Constitution Unit


The Parliamentary Battle over Brexit

NEW BOOK (23 March 2023): Meg Russell & Lisa James provide the first detailed account of the extraordinary way the Brexit process played out in parliament. Order with 30% off using code below!

The Parliamentary Battle over Brexit: image cover
The Parliamentary Battle Over Brexit, written by Unit Director Meg Russell and Research Fellow Lisa James, provides answers to those who want to understand the bitter arguments that occurred over Brexit, what might have been handled better, and the role that parliament played.

Since the 2016 referendum, the hotly contested issue of Brexit has raised fundamental questions about the workings of British democracy. Nowhere was this more true than regarding the role of parliament. This book addresses important questions about parliament's role in the UK constitution, and the impact on this of the Brexit process. While initially intended to re-establish 'parliamentary sovereignty', Brexit wrought significant damage on the reputation of parliament, and the wider culture of UK democracy.

Charting the full story of the parliamentary battle over Brexit, Meg Russell and Lisa James show that it wasn't always what it seemed. Based on careful documentary research and extensive interviews with key protagonists, the book explores multiple nail-biting moments, procedural innovations, and political 'what if's'. Drawing on insider accounts, alongside media and parliamentary debates, the book puts the events of Brexit into context and provides a clear and reliable document of record on a complex and disputed story. Ultimately, it argues that Brexit was largely a battle inside the Conservative Party, for which parliament got the blame.

Insightful and comprehensive, the book is necessary reading to those with broader interests in British Politics, the culture of UK democracy, and the challenges of populism and democratic 'backsliding'.

To receive 30% off The Parliamentary Battle over Brexit, order a copy below and use code AAFLYG6.

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What people say about the book:

"An authoritative, comprehensive guide, written with great analytical lucidity and narrative verve". Rafael Behr, Politics on the Couch podcast

"I doubt whether anyone will ever improve on Russell & James’s account. It is highly detailed, lucid, and painstakingly accurate.”

“The authors effortlessly unpick the often extremely abstruse history [of, amongst others things, Meaningful Votes, Indicative Votes, complex amendments and unusual procedures.] This is all sure-footed and faultless.”

“Russell & James do quite as great a public service in their concern to emphasise the importance of parliamentary democracy and constitutional propriety as they do in their forensic account of the events, sometimes arcane and often dramatic, that took place in the British parliament between 2016 and 2020.” - Chris Grey, Emeritus Professor, Royal Holloway. Read the review on his blog, 'Brexit and Beyond'

"A beautifully researched, thoughtful, and morally alert examination of one of the most difficult and divisive issues in British history." - Rory Stewart, Former Conservative Cabinet Minister and co-host of The Rest is Politics podcast

"Brexit was a serious and destabilising political event, but also an extraordinary parliamentary soap opera. This accessible book provides a definitive, compelling account of every improbable plot twist, while identifying important lessons for the future of our democracy." - Dr Hannah White, Director, Institute for Government

"Parliament was often the centre of national attention on Brexit. For a while in 2019, the BBC's Parliament channel's ratings even beat those for MTV. To really understand what went on, and what it all means, you can do no better than to read this meticulously researched book." - Anand Menon, Director of UK in a Changing Europe and Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King's College, London

"The 2016 referendum and its aftermath crystallised long-running divisions over our EU membership, within political parties and the wider public. This thoughtful book charts what happened, identifies what could have been handled better, and helps outline how we can overcome the divisions and return to a more consensual democratic discourse." - Gisela Stuart, former Labour MP and chair of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign

This book is published as part of the ‘Brexit, Parliament and the Constitution’ project, funded through Constitution Unit Director Meg Russell's Senior Fellowship with the ESRC-funded UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE) programme.

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