From Supreme Court interventions to accusations of ‘dead Parliaments’, the Brexit impact to the pandemic response, a tumultuous period in British politics has put the UK constitution under huge strain and undermined public faith in how the UK is governed.
Calls for change have come from all sides. Should the UK’s constitution be codified? Does parliament have enough power to hold the government to account? Are the courts going too far in diluting government power? Does the role of the House of Lords and the monarchy need rethinking? Is devolution working – and do we need more of it? How do governments deal with the public and can trust be restored?
While the last five years have brought the constitution’s sustainability into question, they have also created a real opportunity to reinvigorate UK democracy, restore trust in the political system and improve the way that government works. But without a clear vision for the future, the UK risks yet more constitutional confusion and conflict.
Over the next 18 months, the Institute for Government and the Bennett Institute of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, backed by a distinguished advisory panel, will undertake an impartial, non-partisan review of the constitution before setting out recommendations for change for this and future governments to follow. This event launched this major joint project, exploring how well the UK constitution is working and the problems that now need to be addressed.
On the panel to discuss the UK constitution and the problems faced, were:
- Dr Halima Begum, Chief Executive of the Runnymede Trust
- The Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC, former Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice; current Member of Parliament for South Swindon
- Professor Ciaran Martin, former Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre; now Professor of Practice in the Management of Public Organisations at Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University
- Baroness Smith of Basildon, Shadow Leader of the House of Lords
This event was chaired by Professor Michael Kenny, Director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy.