Navigating without maps: constitutional silence and the management of the Brexit crisis

Aileen McHarg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The vote by a narrow majority to Leave the European Union (EU) (“Brexit”) in the referendum of 23 June 2016 produced a political crisis in the United Kingdom (UK), in terms of deep uncertainty about the effects of Brexit; potentially serious implications for the territorial integrity of the UK; and the political backlash it provoked from disgruntled “Remain” voters. In this article, I explore the role of constitutional silence in navigating the Brexit crisis. I argue, first, that events since the EU referendum have exposed, and been shaped by, three key areas of constitutional silence (concerning the constitutional authority of the referendum itself; the extent of the UK government’s prerogative powers in foreign affairs; and the right of the Scottish people to secede from the UK) each with roots in deep structural features of the UK’s constitution. Second, I consider how silence has contributed, positively or negatively, to the management of the post-referendum crisis, asking whether what is undoubtedly a crisis for the UK constitution has also become a crisis of the UK constitution.
LanguageEnglish
Pages952 - 968
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Constitutional Law
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2018

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referendum
constitution
management
territorial integrity
political crisis
voter
uncertainty
event

Keywords

  • Brexit
  • constitutional silence
  • foreign affairs
  • UK constitution

Cite this

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Navigating without maps : constitutional silence and the management of the Brexit crisis. / McHarg, Aileen.

In: International Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 16, No. 3, 09.11.2018, p. 952 - 968.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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