August was a busy month writing, whereas September has seen a shift from writing to speaking. On 14 September, I was part of a panel (pictured right) at the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law seminar on ‘Taking “Brexit” Seriously: A Dialogue’ at King’s College London. I focused on Parliament and Brexit.
It was then a case of heading to Scotland to speak on 17 September at a Forum for British and Irish Political Thought colloquium on ‘The Present Crisis: Origins and Outcomes’ at St Andrew’s University. (The picture, left, shows me in windswept St Andrews.) My paper was titled ‘The Union and devolution: diversity and incoherence’.
I then moved from Scotland to Belgium in order to speak on 20 September at a PADEMIA: Parliamentary Democracy in Europe Workshop on ‘The Impact of Referenda on Parliamentary Democracy’ (yes, I did explain why referendums is to be preferred to referenda), focusing on the consequences for Parliament of the outcome of the June referendum.
In the talks, I was able to draw on recent reports produced by House of Lords committees, not least the Constitution Committee. In looking at the Union and devolution I drew, not surprisingly, on the Committee’s report on The Union and Devolution. On addressing Parliament and Brexit, I called attention to our most recent report, The Invoking of Article 50. It is a short, but in my view an important analysis of the role Parliament should play. I was able also to draw on the European Union Committee reports on The process of withdrawing from the European Union and Scrutinising Brexit: The role of Parliament.
The reports provide valuable contributions to discussion on not only Brexit, but also the need to look more conceptually at our constitutional arrangements. They also demonstrate the value of the House of Lords in addressing such issues. The existence of the Constitution and EU Committees means that we already have in place some institutional means for identifying what should be done in rather volatile and uncertain times for our constitution.