Brexit could strengthen Parliament or weaken it. This applies to its standing in relation to both the government and the public. Given the promise that leaving the EU means ‘taking back control’, the way in which Parliament manages the Brexit process and its post-Brexit role will be among the criteria for judging whether the UK ‘makes a success of it’.
In one scenario, the UK emerges into a post-Brexit political landscape with the executive empowered, not Parliament. Parliament is not seen by either the government or the public to have made much positive difference to the nature of Brexit or the public’s understanding of or engagement with the process. In the other scenario, Parliament seizes the opportunity - arguably, the mandate - arising from the EU referendum to assert its role as a key site for information-gathering and dissemination, policy generation, consensus-building and decision-making.
What we are doing
We are researching and reporting on Parliament’s handling of Brexit - across its scrutiny of government, its legislative work, and its role in the international treaty-making and -unmaking that will be involved. The EU (Withdrawal) Act and associated legislation are a particular focus of our work, building on our track record of detailed research on delegated legislation and its scrutiny.
We are also looking ahead to Parliament in the post-Brexit era, identifying structures and procedures that will need to change, and capabilities and resources that may need to be different. Among other issues, we are looking at the role Parliament might play in the UK’s post-Brexit trade agreements and other treaties.
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In the run-up to the UK’s exit from the EU on 29 March 2019 we will be tracking the progress made by government and Parliament in preparing the statute book for exit day. Our analysis draws on parliamentary data and our own Statutory Instrument Tracker which we built several years ago to support our research on delegated legislation.
Attention is focused on the ‘meaningful vote’ on the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, but the Agreement will also be subject to a parliamentary ratification consent procedure, under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, notable mainly for not involving a vote.
In November 2018 the House of Lords Liaison Committee published our evidence to its review of investigative and scrutiny committees. We made wide-ranging recommendations aimed at improving legislative scrutiny, facilitating more effective horizon-scanning and addressing post-Brexit scrutiny challenges.
Following the controversy surrounding the breaking of the Philip Green court injunction, has the time come for new restrictions on the use of parliamentary privilege, as previously suggested by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament? Former Clerk of the Parliaments Sir David Beamish outlines the legal and procedural issues that inform the debate.
In our evidence on procedural arrangements for the ‘meaningful vote’ on the prospective UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, we argue that the possibly unique nature and extraordinary political circumstances of the vote justify an extraordinary and imaginative remedy.