EU referendum

Brexit means a bleak future for UK public spending and probably for intra-UK governance relations

Brexit means a bleak future for UK public spending and probably for intra-UK governance relations

In the London-centric world of the UK-wide and English media, too little consideration has yet been given to what Brexit means for public spending (almost all of it bad), and for UK-devolved government relations. David Heald explains the need to focus on the long-term important issues.

Referendums, though they may be political lifeboats, can be very bad for democracy

Referendums, though they may be political lifeboats, can be very bad for democracy

Britain has an uncodified constitution. No one is exactly clear – when is it proper for a government to hold a referendum? In the absence of clarity, all seek to take advantage, to the detriment of well-functioning democracy. Consequently, while referendums may be treated as political lifeboats, they can be very bad for democracy, argues Peter Wiggins. 

The good, the bad and the ugly arguments for ditching the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

The good, the bad and the ugly arguments for ditching the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

One of the most contentious pieces of legislation to be put before Parliament – the EU (Withdrawal) Bill – now faces scrutiny and probable amendments in the Lords. From a human rights perspective, writes Joelle Grogan (Middlesex University), one of the most concerning aspects of the Bill is the exclusion of the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights from the corpus of EU law to be incorporated into UK law. She assesses the arguments being made to exclude it, concluding that the only plausible explanation for rejection of Charter rights is the rejection of rights.

Immobility and support for Leave: Brexit was partly a reaction to change from the locally rooted

Immobility and support for Leave: Brexit was partly a reaction to change from the locally rooted

Popular explanations of the Brexit vote have centred on the division between cosmopolitan internationalists who voted Remain, and geographically-rooted individuals who voted Leave. Katy Morris, Neil Lee, and Thomas Kemeny write that residential immobility also matters. They explain why those living in their county of birth were more likely to support Leave. However, the impact of immobility was filtered […]

How Parliament’s campaign of attrition forced the government to open up about Brexit

How Parliament’s campaign of attrition forced the government to open up about Brexit

The real battle over Brexit has not been about whether Parliament will get a final vote, writes Ben Worthy (Birkbeck University of London). The true fight is about information – about what kind of Brexit the government wants, and what its impact is likely to be. In this, Parliament has been rather successful. Pressure from select committees and […]

Book review | Guilty Men – the Brexit Edition, by Tim Oliver

Book review | Guilty Men – the Brexit Edition, by Tim Oliver

Brexit is as big and dangerous a mistake as that of appeasement in the 1930s. So argues Cato the Younger in his book Guilty Men: Brexit Edition, reviewed here by Tim Oliver. Taking up the pen of his great grandfather, whose 1940 book of the same name destroyed the reputations of those responsible for appeasement, Cato the Younger is no […]

The EU is extraordinarily complex. But do we want to simplify it?

The EU is extraordinarily complex. But do we want to simplify it?

The EU’s institutional architecture is often regarded as being too complex for citizens to properly engage with, and both Jean-Claude Juncker and Emmanuel Macron have recently proposed some form of simplification – such as merging the President of the European Commission with the President of the European Council, or shrinking the Commission. Dimiter Toshkov argues that while […]

Referendum campaigns end up convincing voters that their preferred party is right

Referendum campaigns end up convincing voters that their preferred party is right

When people are deciding how to vote in a referendum, do they take their cue from party loyalty or by listening to the debate and making up their own minds? When Céline Colombo (University of Zurich) and Hanspeter Kriesi (European University Institute) analysed two Swiss referendums, they found that voters do pay attention to the arguments. But during […]

Audit 2017: How democratic is the Brexit process?

Audit 2017: How democratic is the Brexit process?

Many political and constitutional steps are needed in order to for the UK to leave the European Union, after 44 years as a full member. Cumulatively they form one of the biggest constitutional changes in British history, and one dogged by intense controversy and disputes. As part of our 2017 Audit of UK Democracy, Joelle Grogan examines […]

The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit: reflections on the first weekend

The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit: reflections on the first weekend

The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit – a gathering of randomly-selected people who will learn about the options for the form Brexit should take – has just begun its work. The project’s director Alan Renwick (UCL Constitution Unit) offers some initial, personal reflections on a highly successful first weekend. Similar PostsWhat would voters be asked in a second […]