Brexit to test UK’s constitution and institutions to the limit warn leading academics

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Brexit will place enormous pressures on parliament, the civil service, the courts and the British constitution leading academics show in a report published today.

How the United Kingdom might leave the European Union, by The UK in a Changing Europe for the Political Studies Association, sets out the immense legal, constitutional and bureaucratic challenges involved in the Brexit process.

The civil service faces its biggest ever challenge. Negotiations with the EU will entail extensive coordination between new and existing ministries and an immense workload.

Parliament will have its work cut out dealing with the volume of work triggered by the Government’s ‘Great Repeal Bill’. Identifying and transposing all relevant EU law will be a daunting and time consuming task. The alternative is to work via secondary legislation, which would raise concerns about transparency, legitimacy and legislative quality.

There is a lack of clarity over what the Article 50 negotiations will address, the report shows, notably whether negotiations over the future UK-EU relationship can be conducted simultaneously.

Professor Anand Menon, UK in a Changing Europe director said: “Article 50 negotiations will be tricky and hideously technical but that is the easy bit. When it comes to the crafting of a future relationship, almost everything is up in the air.”

The report shows how Brexit will put the constitutional fabric of the UK under strain. The Great Repeal Bill will impinge on the balance of power between Westminster and the devolved parliaments. This will lead to increased policy differentiation in areas such as agriculture, fisheries, the environment and higher education.

Professor Menon said: “Brexit thus has the potential to test the UK’s constitutional settlement, legal framework, political process and bureaucratic capacities to their limits – and possibly beyond.

“An irritating aspect of the current debate is the tendency of Brexiters to accuse those who warn of difficulties of ‘talking Britain down’. It’s a good line but a pathetic argument. Since when was rational debate a bad thing? Forewarned, surely, is forearmed and this report will help identify potential stumbling blocks ahead.”

 

Disclaimer:
The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative.

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