Is the United Kingdom a Mini-EU?

gb flagsRonan McCrea, Barrister and Senior Lecturer in Law at UCL, draws parallels between the political structure of the UK and the European Union and argues that, with the growth of independence movements in Scotland and Wales, the UK increasingly resembles a loose collection of sovereign nations.

The United Kingdom is to leave the European Union, partly in order to protect the right to self-government of the UK as a nation state as expressed through the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament. Interestingly, the reaction to the decision to leave the EU reveals the degree to which through a combination of devolution with increased recourse to referendums, the United Kingdom has drifted into being a kind of voluntary grouping of sovereign nations that bears significant similarities to the European Union. Continue reading

Exit plan: how Scotland and Northern Ireland can remain in the EU

stakesPublic discussions about how the UK is to exit from the European Union have been too simplified, and have failed to come up with any solution that recognises that only England and Wales in fact voted to leave. Brendan O’Leary, Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, outlines a way forward where those nations wanting to remain in the EU might be able to do so.

There has as yet been no Brexit, and there will not be – because there is no such entity as ‘Britain’. There could, however, be a UKexit. But those who insist that a 52-48 vote is good enough to take the entire UK out of the EU would trigger a serious crisis of legitimacy.

England and Wales have voted to leave the European Union, but Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar have voted to remain. These differing outcomes have to be the central focus of political attention while we wait for the debris of broken expectations to settle. Continue reading

Scotland and Brexit: A path to independence or crisis?

flags_scotland_ukThe likely impact of Brexit on the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK has made all the headlines but, says Kirsty Hughes, that is just the most obvious of the constitutional difficulties posed by a vote to leave.

The EU referendum could be held as early as June – if the vote is for Brexit, a UK-wide political crisis is likely.

Recent polls for Scotland suggest almost two-thirds of the population support staying in the EU. Polls in Northern Ireland also suggest a clear majority in favour, while in Wales opinion more narrowly supports the EU. So a UK vote for Brexit could mean that England voted ‘leave’ (at the level of 53% or more against the EU), while the other three constituent parts of the UK voted ‘remain’. Continue reading