Parliament and the political process

Big questions after Brexit

, 24 June 2016

The Prime Minister has triggered a Conservative Party leadership process, to establish who will lead the UK government through the challenges ahead. In the short term, this means we effectively have a caretaker government. The PM will remain in place and for uncontroversial issues, the cabinet nature of our government will come to the...

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The history of changes of Prime Minister

, 21 June 2016

It is far from unusual for us to have a change of Prime Minister without a general election. Since the Second World War there have been almost as many changes of PM from within the same party as there have as a result of a general election (six during a parliament, seven as a...

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The referendum and the British constitution: strange bedfellows?

, 20 June 2016

The EU referendum campaign has not been the finest advertisement for evidence-based, deliberative decision-making, but the genie of direct democracy is hard to put back in its bottle. Referendums seem here to stay, at least for the biggest constitutional questions, and quite possibly on an expanding range of issues. And at some point the...

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Never mind the ballots: referendums in the UK

, 20 June 2016

The EU referendum will be the third UK-wide referendum in British political history. As our colleague Akash Paun notes, referendums have tended to be used ‘to settle questions of an indisputably constitutional character’. Thursday’s vote is the second UK-wide referendum on Europe – in 1975, the question put to voters was ‘Do you think...

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Northern Ireland’s first official Opposition – a step towards ‘normal politics’?

, 31 May 2016

The Northern Ireland Assembly’s official Opposition, formed by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), will be the first of its kind since the Assembly was established in 1998 (see chart). Thanks to recent legislative changes, parties with nine or more elected members can now form an official...

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The EU referendum – the role of Ministers and the Civil Service during the campaign

, 27 May 2016

Alongside the rules for the official campaign groups on how they can act, what money they can spend and what publicity they are able to put out, the next 28 days also sees a change in the role of the Civil Service in supporting the Government over the question of the UK’s membership of...

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Joint scrutiny: BHS inquiry shows us how select committees can work together

, 24 May 2016

The collapse of BHS into administration put 11,000 high street jobs at risk and revealed a pensions black hole of nearly £600 million. The sheer scale of the business failure meant it was inevitable that Parliament would wish to ask questions, and it was clear that it raised issues within the remit of more...

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Old faces, new politics? How the three devolved governments were formed

, 20 May 2016

In Scotland and Wales, unlike at Westminster, First Ministers are appointed (by the Queen) only after receiving the explicit backing of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd respectively. This process came to a conclusion this week as the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh Labour’s Carwyn Jones were reconfirmed in office. Events in Edinburgh and...

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Queen’s Speech 2016: triumph of realism?

, 19 May 2016

Every political event is now interpreted through the lens of the European Union (EU) referendum, and yesterday’s speech laid bare the rifts that exist in the Conservative Party over the referendum. Indeed, coverage today is focused less on the substance of the speech, and more on deepening divisions in the Government. But that is...

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Getting their Acts together? Legislation in the 2015-16 Parliament

, 17 May 2016

Last year’s Queen’s Speech contained more bills than any since 2007. There were around 26 bills in last year’s Queen’s Speech, which announces the legislative agenda for the parliamentary session ahead. According to the House of Commons Library, 13 of those bills have become law, and the proposed bill on Northern Ireland eventually became...

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