What role will parliament have in triggering Article 50 and shaping the terms of Brexit?

13702284943_a43335d328_zConstitutional lawyers have been engaged in a major debate over whether parliamentary authorisation is needed for Article 50 to be triggered and the process of negotiating Brexit to formally begin. In this post, the UCL Constitution Unit’s Robert Hazell and Jack Sheldon move the discussion on, asking how parliament might debate the triggering of Article 50 and, once it has been triggered, what role parliament might play in scrutinising the negotiations that follow.

There has been an outpouring of blog posts discussing whether there is a legal requirement for parliamentary authorisation before the Prime Minister can trigger Article 50 and start the formal negotiations to lead to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. However, it is probable that regardless of the legal position, the political realities will require some form of parliamentary consent. This post moves the discussion on, to ask in what ways parliament might debate the triggering of Article 50, and, once it has been triggered, what role parliament might play in scrutinising the Brexit negotiations that follow. Continue reading

Roman oratory and the EU referendum campaigns

ciceroIn addition to marking a politically decisive moment in British history, the campaigns in advance of the referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU were exciting objects of study for Classicists in terms of the political use of oratory, writes Gesine Manuwald, Professor of Latin at UCL.

In addition to marking a politically decisive moment in British history, the campaigns in advance of the referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU were exciting objects of study for Classicists in terms of the political use of oratory. This applies in particular to students of the oratory of the Roman Republic, mainly the orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BCE), as such scholars tend to have a specific perspective on contemporary speeches and argumentative techniques, shaped by their experience of the ancient world; they are also often interested in comparisons as these can be illuminating both ways. Approached that way, the campaigns and the strategies used turned out to display all sorts of unexpected parallels between rhetorical argument in Republican Rome and present-day Britain. Continue reading

The EU debate: a gift to cartoonists

FactsFor Kipper Williams, cartoonist, whichever side you happen to be on in the EU debate, it’s a universal truth that straight banana directives have considerable comedy potential – particularly if you happen to be a cartoonist.

So my book ‘In or Out? Europe in Cartoons‘ shamelessly draws on topics like this, even though it’s never been my intention to use cartoons as a vehicle for bashing the European Commission. My cartoon strip ‘Eurocats’ which ran in the Guardian in the early-1990s similarly exploited fundamentally fictional Brussels ‘scare stories’ as raw material (thanks Boris), simply because they were so absurd. Continue reading

Undecided on the EU referendum? These are the three questions to ask yourself

If there is one thing people can agree on as they prepare to vote on the UK’s EU membership: comprehensive, comprehensible and trustworthy information is in short supply. Every day, the quality of the debate sinks to a new low – yet the stakes are as high as ever, writes Uta Staiger, Executive Director of the UCL European Institute.

How, then, are you supposed to make your decision on June 23? What questions should you ask yourself when you enter the polling booth?

Ultimately, I suggest, there are three core questions you need to consider as you make up your mind. Will you (individually and collectively) be better or worse off? How do you feel about your country, where it is headed, who it is made up of and how it interacts with others? And what does sovereignty really mean to you? Continue reading

Not seen, not heard: the implications of Brexit for children

brexit sandcastlesExiting the European Union has the potential to severely, negatively impact children living in Britain today, yet so far Brexit has remained a discussion between and about adults, writes Helen Stalford, Professor of Law at the University of Liverpool. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership ‘Brexit Divisions’ with openDemocracy.

On 23 June 2016 adults will decide on the future of the UK’s membership of the European Union. While proposals to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds were defeated in the House of Lords in December 2015, they reignited debate over the substance and scope of children’s democratic participation and their capacity to make informed political decisions. None of these discussions or, indeed, any of the wider debates surrounding the forthcoming referendum have considered the impact that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU might have on children’s rights and lives. This is in spite of the fact that children, who make up one fifth of the EU population and nearly one quarter (approximately 15 million) of the UK population, have the biggest stake in the outcome of the referendum. As current and future citizens, consumers, movers, workers, parents, and carers, children will bear the full brunt and, indeed, the benefits of any decision to either remain in or withdraw from the EU. Continue reading