This project is funded through Constitution Unit Director Meg Russell's Senior Fellowship with the ESRC-funded UK in a Changing Europe (UKICE) programme, which runs for three years, from June 2019 to May 2022. Meg is one of nine such Senior Fellows focused on a variety of Brexit-related fields.
Commentary and Events
The Fellowship comprises two main elements. The first is to work alongside the UKICE team to facilitate events and commentary on key topics around the broad topic of ‘Brexit, Parliament and the Constitution’. Recent examples include:
- An appearance on the BBC Radio 4 Analysis programme on 12 October 2020, discussing the government's relationship with its backbenchers.
- Meg Russell's appearance on the UCL Uncovering Politics podcast on 8 October 2020, discussing democratic checks and balances.
- Invited oral evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on 6 October 2020 on the prospects for the government's proposed Commission on the Constitution, Democracy and Human Rights, summarised here.
- A blog post by Meg Russell and Lisa James on 28 September 2020 on the side-lining of parliament during the pandemic.
- A blog post by Meg Russell on 13 September 2020, on the question of whether the House of Lords will block the Internal Market Bill.
- Invited oral evidence to the House of Commons Procedure Committee on 8 July 2020, on Commons procedure during the pandemic. Our summary, including links to the full evidence session and other relevant resources, is here.
- Invited oral evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee on 24 June 2020, on parliament's workings during the coronavirus pandemic. Find our summary, including a link to the full evidence session, here.
- A blog post laying out proposals for a virtual parliament during the coronavirus pandemic - co-authored with the Hansard Society.
- The Unit partnered with The UK in a Changing Europe to hold a conference on 10 March 2020 on the topic of Parliament and Brexit - including a panel on parliament's place in the constitution which featured Meg Russell. See here for more details, including links for videos of the conference panels.
- A chapter on parliament by Meg Russell in The UK in a Changing Europe's report 'Brexit: what next?'.
- Meg Russell's appearance on The UK in a Changing Europe's Brexit Breakdown podcast, on 16 January 2020.
- Meg Russell's appearance on the National Constitution Center's We The People podcast, discussing the question 'Is Brexit a British Constitutional Crisis?'
- Commentary on the government's proposed programme for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
- Meg Russell's appearance on BBC Radio 4's World at One on 14 October, discussing the Queen's Speech.
- Meg Russell's evidence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on prorogation and the Supreme Court judgment on 8 October 2019.
- A panel discussion of Brexit, Parliament and the Constitution at UCL's It's All Academic Festival on 5 October 2019.
- Appearances by Meg Russell on The UK in a Changing Europe's Brexit Breakdown podcast, on 18 September and 27 September 2019.
- Appearance on a special edition of BBC Radio 4's The Briefing Room on the UK constitution after the Supreme Court ruling, on 26 September 2019.
- An article in the Guardian on 6 September, about the strains recent Brexit events have put on parliament and the constitution.
- A widely-shared interview on BBC Radio 4's World at One Programme on 28 August, discussing the recently-announced prorogation.
- Meg Russell's appearance on the Prospect podcast on 14 August 2019, discussing a possible vote of no confidence and 'unity' government.
- A detailed interview with Meg Russell on the BBC Radio 4 PM Programme on 9 August discussing what MPs can do to block a 'no deal' Brexit
- Evidence to the House of Commons Exiting the European Union Committee on on prospects for a further Brexit referendum on 24 July 2019.
- A conference held on 15 July 2019 on 'Brexit and the Constitution' - watch a video of Meg Russell's panel at the conference.
Research and Publications
The second part of the project will comprise detailed research and publications focussed on Brexit and parliament. The publications for this project to date are:
- Brexit and Parliament: The Anatomy of a Perfect Storm - published, free to access, in Parliamentary Affairs in June 2020. In this article, Meg Russell charts the stages of parliament’s Brexit ‘perfect storm’, tracing its causes to four factors: the design of the referendum, a period of (unfamiliar) minority government, deeply divided political parties, and the weakness of parliamentary rules in facilitating a solution. In the end, the Brexit argument was primarily one inside the Conservative Party, but parliament got the blame.
The research will result in various outputs, including blogposts, academic journal articles, reports and a likely book. It is anticipated that the outputs will address three main topics:
- The relationship and tensions between principles of direct and representative democracy in the UK constitution.
- The extent and shape of parliament’s influence over the Brexit process.
- What the Brexit process has told us about the need for possible future parliamentary reforms.
This work will build on various past work conducted by Meg Russell, including the Independent Commission on Referendums, her work on the policy impact of the Westminster parliament, and various projects on parliamentary reform, including the project on parliament’s control of its own agenda that helped lay the groundwork for the 2009 recommendations by the ‘Wright committee’.
This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s The UK in a Changing Europe initiative.