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Constitution Unit +ConUnitUCL
The Constitution Unit conducts timely, rigorous, independent research into constitutional change and its consequences.
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The Constitution Unit is currently running a Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK as part of its Democracy in the UK after Brexit project. As the Assembly nears the halfway point in its deliberations, the project’s Research Assistant, James Cleaver, describes the principles that have shaped its design. The first two weekends of the […]
The draft Online Safety Bill published in May is the first significant attempt to safeguard the public from online harms through legislation. However, as Alex Walker explains, the government’s current proposals are a missed opportunity to address online harms to democracy and could even make tackling disinformation more difficult. In May, the government published its […]
In September, the Constitution Unit hosted a distinguished panel of experts to discuss the government’s plans for reforming election law, as set out in the Elections Bill and draft Online Safety Bill. Tom Fieldhouse summarises the discussion. The Elections Bill, and the draft Online Safety Bill are two important parts of the government’s reform agenda […]
The legislative challenges posed by Brexit and the unusual circumstances of the pandemic have led to a significant increase in the use of secondary legislation. The former Head of the Government Legal Department, Jonathan Jones, argues that mass use of statutory instruments is problematic, and that there should be a fundamental rethink of how and […]
The Elections Bill has been subject to both criticism and praise, as discussed by our Deputy Director Alan Renwick on this blog, and numerous contributors to a parliamentary inquiry. Justin Fisher, a panellist at the Unit’s recent seminar on the bill, argues that it has several good proposals, but that more thought about certain aspects is […]
The Elections Bill has been subject to both criticism and praise, as discussed by Emilia Cieslak on this blog, and a panel of experts at a recent Unit seminar. In this post, Unit Deputy Director Alan Renwick identifies the threats to electoral integrity and devolution posed by the clauses of the bill that propose changes […]
The Elections Bill is currently being scrutinised by the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which has received a large amount of evidence from a wide range of academics and organisations. Ahead of today’s Unit webinar on the bill, Emilia Cieslak offers a summary of the key themes, including the parts of the bill […]
The Citizens’ Assembly on Democracy in the UK – part of the Unit’s current research project examining attitudes to democracy in the UK – will meet for the first time this weekend. The project’s lead, Alan Renwick, here answers five key questions about what the Assembly will do, how it will operate, and why it […]
Whether or not Scotland can legally hold a referendum without the consent of Westminster is a question that has provoked much debate. Ciaran Martin argues that the answer to this question does not really matter: regardless of the legality of any referendum, it is unrealistic to think that Scotland will leave the Union without the […]
Next week MPs debate the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill, which seeks to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (FTPA) and revive the former prerogative power of dissolution. Meg Russell, Gavin Phillipson and Petra Schleiter, all of whom gave evidence to the parliamentary committees considering FTPA repeal, argue that the government’s bill is flawed. It […]
Next week MPs debate the government’s bill to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. One argument frequently deployed for scrapping the Act is that it generated gridlock over Brexit. But, Meg Russell argues, no clear counterfactual to support this claim has ever been presented. In fact, when considering the possible scenarios, it seems likely that […]
Alan Whysall, a member of the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland, discusses the potential longer term constitutional destinies of Northern Ireland. He also analyses how we can ensure a more satisfactory debate, an ultimately more constructive politics, and the possible renewal of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. The first part of […]
Following the report of its Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland, the Unit will in the coming weeks publish a discussion paper on the wider political options for Northern Ireland. In the first part of this blog, Alan Whysall, the author of the paper, sets it in the current political context, […]
The Independent Review of Administrative Law provoked much criticism and concern when it was announced by the government, but its final report was less radical than many predicted. In the last of our series of posts from speakers at our June conference on the government’s reform agenda, Lord Faulks speaks of the work of the […]
Following an increase in the use of citizens’ assemblies to aid policymakers in seeking solutions to the problems posed by climate change, Robert Liao asks why this particular subject is so commonly the theme of citizens’ assemblies, before analysing whether such processes produce recommendations that genuinely inform policymaking. The so-called ‘deliberative wave’ of recent years...
Alison Young argues that the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill transfers power from parliament to the government, and not to the people, and that it is wrong to place the blame for the extraordinary events of 2019 on the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA) has not had […]
John Denham discusses how England is becoming more centralised by a Prime Minister keen on ‘unfettered leadership’, arguing that the model of elected mayors is losing its attraction to central government. This extension of the powers of the Union state over England might well be described as the ‘English variant’. It faces unique and significant […]
For the third time in just over a decade, a new map of parliamentary constituencies is being designed. This one will likely be implemented. Charles Pattie and David Rossiter argue that, despite the misconceptions of both Labour and the Conservatives, the review is neither a ‘gerrymander’ against one, nor redressing an imbalance that harmed the […]
John Pullinger, chair of the Electoral Commission, argues digital campaign regulations need  an ‘overhaul’ to make the electoral process more transparent and accessible to voters, thereby increasing confidence in the system in a manner that doesn’t discourage parties, candidates and campaigners to take in part in elections. He also calls on the UK’s parliaments to […]
The latest edition of Monitor, the Unit’s regular news update on constitutional issues, was published today. In this lead article from Monitor 78, Meg Russell and Alan Renwick discuss the continuing uncertainty about the future of the Union, government plans to change how and when we elect our political leaders, the rolling disputes about the Northern Ireland Protocol, plans to rebalance...
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