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IFG - Brexit should force Parliament to reinvent itself

MPs and peers need to make sure that Parliament is ready to take on new functions and adapt old ways of working to be ready for a post-Brexit reality, says a new report by the Institute for Government.

“Parliament after Brexit” says Brexit has exposed deep-seated problems with parliamentary processes and highlighted uncertainties in the relationship between government ministers and MPs.

Starting with the Supreme Court case over the need for parliamentary approval to trigger Article 50 negotiations, debate has played out in both Houses about the wide-ranging powers given to ministers and who should control the agenda in the Commons. The role of the Speaker has also been a flashpoint, because of the controversy over as his ability to select amendments to motions and bills.  

Parliament needs to explicitly address these issues rather than simply assume that the UK will return to majority government and that closure will be reached on the divisive issue of Brexit.

To address these two key challenges, the report says Parliament should establish a joint committee to offer strategic oversight which is currently lacking. The Government and the Opposition should actively engage with this process to ensure Parliament is fit for purpose in the 21st century.

Dr Hannah White, Deputy Director at the Institute for Government, said:

“The exact nature of the UK’s future relationship with the EU remains uncertain, but the Brexit process has created a real imperative for Parliament to proactively consider the role it envisages for itself once the UK has left.”

Maddy Thimont Jack, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Government and author of the report, said:

“Parliament never really got to grips with its role during UK membership of the EU and has been engaged in a war of attrition with the Government over Brexit. Whatever the outcome on Brexit, this is a chance for Parliament to reassess and reinvent. It must not duck the challenge”.

Notes to editors

  1. Full report can be found on the website.
  2. The Institute for Government is an independent think tank that works to make government more effective.
  3. For more information, including data to reproduce any charts, please contact / 0785 031 3791.

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