Brexit basics

After the vote for Brexit, where next? The constitutional and legal implications are outside our “comfort zone”; however, there is a lot of good analysis out in the blogosphere and we thought it might be worthwhile to provide occasional lists of helpful posts on other sites.

The process

The Scottish dimension

Section 28 (Acts of the Scottish Parliament) of the Scotland Act 1998, as amended by s 2 of the Scotland Act 2016 [which added subsection (8)], reads as follows:

“(1) Subject to section 29, the Parliament may make laws, to be known as Acts of the Scottish Parliament.

(2) Proposed Acts of the Scottish Parliament shall be known as Bills; and a Bill shall become an Act of the Scottish Parliament when it has been passed by the Parliament and has received Royal Assent.

(3) A Bill receives Royal Assent at the beginning of the day on which Letters Patent under the Scottish Seal signed with Her Majesty’s own hand signifying Her Assent are recorded in the Register of the Great Seal.

(4) The date of Royal Assent shall be written on the Act of the Scottish Parliament by the Clerk, and shall form part of the Act.

(5) The validity of an Act of the Scottish Parliament is not affected by any invalidity in the proceedings of the Parliament leading to its enactment.

(6) Every Act of the Scottish Parliament shall be judicially noticed.

(7) This section does not affect the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to make laws for Scotland.

(8) But it is recognised that the Parliament of the United Kingdom will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.”

But what, exactly, does “normally” mean? With that in mind, see:

  • BBC: Nicola Sturgeon says MSPs at Holyrood could veto Brexit: the First Minister said that “of course” she would ask MSPs to refuse to give their consent to withdrawal: the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson MSP, who was strongly in favour of Remain, insisted that the Scottish Parliament did not have the  authority to block Brexit even if it were to refuse legislative consent.
  • Scottish Legal News: Scots lawyers on implications of Brexit: thoughts from Andrew Scott, Professor of EU Studies at Edinburgh, Christine O’Neill, chair of Brodies LLP, and Eilidh Wiseman, President of the Law Society of Scotland.

The Northern Ireland dimension

Northern Ireland voted by 56–44 voted to remain in the EU and that has led to calls from Sinn Féin for a referendum on reunification with the Republic.

  • Centre on Constitutional Change: Brexit: England’s Opportunity is (Northern) Ireland’s Difficulty: Professor Christine Bell, of Edinburgh University, points out that there is provision for a border poll in s 1 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and comments on its political and constitutional implications. If a majority votes for reunification, the UK Parliament is obliged to give effect to that decision: moreover, the Secretary of State must call a border poll “if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland”.

Possible implications for the ECHR

Primary legislation

EU and UK Governmental analysis

  • House of Commons Library: Brexit: what happens next?: Commons Briefing paper CBP-7632, 24 June 2016. This note looks at the immediate consequences of the vote and some of the longer term implications.
  • House of Commons Library: Reading list on UK-EU relations 2013-16: reform, renegotiation, withdrawal: Commons Briefing paper CBP-7220, Commons Briefing paper CBP-7220, 24 June 2016. Selection of books, journal and press articles, think tank, parliamentary and library publications relevant to the UK’s renegotiation of its membership of the European Union. This last update will be followed by a new series of briefings on the consequences of the Brexit vote.
  • House of Commons Library: Tax after the EU referendum: Commons Briefing paper CBP-7630, 24 June 2016. This short note discusses the possible implications for the UK tax system of the UK leaving the EU and collates the comment that has been made on this specific aspect of Brexit following the vote on the EU referendum.
  • House of Commons Library: Pensions after the EU referendum: Commons Briefing paper CBP-7629, 24 June 2016: This note brings together some initial responses regarding the possible implications for pensions of the UK’s vote to leave the EU
  • House of Commons Library: Financial services after the referendum: Commons Briefing paper CBP-7628, 24 June 2016. This note brings together commentary about financial services in the immediate aftermath of the UK referendum result to leave the EU.
  • House of Commons Library: Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011: 24 June 2016. Commons Briefing paper SN06111. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 creates a five-year period between general elections. Early elections may only be held in specified circumstances.
  • House of Commons Library: EU Referendum: the process of leaving the EU: 8 April 2016. Commons Briefing paper CBP-7551, written before the Referendum took place, looks at some of the issues likely to arise for the UK during a withdrawal process and afterwards.
  • House of Commons Library: Leadership Elections: Conservative Party: Commons Briefing Paper SN01366, 27 June 2016. Sets out the current rules, and the background to their introduction. Also details of the previous elections held under the current rules and brief details of the pre-1998 rules


Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington