Propping up Parliament

Alexandra Meakin is a doctoral student at the University of Sheffield, where her research is on the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster. She is a Research Associate on the Designing for Democracy project, led by the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics, an ESRC Knowledge Exchange Hub.

As the House of Commons returns this week from the summer recess, MPs will be adjusting to a temporary silence from the chimes of Big Ben. The repairs to the Elizabeth Tower, which contains the Great Bell, have led some politicians and parts of the media to protest that “the very heartbeat of our democracy is falling silent”. The House of Commons Commission is due to meet this month to reconsider the programme of work to address urgent problems with the clock mechanism and the structure of the tower. But while attention has been focused on Big Ben, an anniversary this week serves as a pressing reminder about the worrying state of the rest of the Palace of Westminster.

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Love Actually… more expensive than pre-Brexit?

Iain Begg is a Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Senior Fellow on the ESRC’s UK in a Changing Europe initiative.

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As Lysander put it in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’. Now it also has to contend with the consequences of the Brexit vote. The fall in the pound since the referendum means that any commodities for which there is a world price, often denominated in dollars, suddenly became more expensive. This applies to oil and many other raw materials, but also to those two essential ingredients of the engagement ring: gold and diamonds. Continue reading

The rejected experts

‘Why was the evidence of academic experts ignored in the run-up to the Brexit result? And what can academics do about it?’ asks Matthew Flinders, Professor of Politics and Founding Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics at the University of Sheffield.

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One of the most interesting and worrying elements of the Brexit debate was the manner in which expert opinion was to some extent dismissed and sidelined in favour of more emotive arguments. Continue reading

What will happen to the England-Scotland border following Brexit?

Between 2013 and 2015, the ESRC funded a seminar series examining the changing relationship between Scotland and the North East of England. While the series highlighted the many challenges facing the North East’s economic fortunes in the context of an even more powerful neighbour north of the border, it also explored the opportunities provided by the Scottish independence campaign – and the aftermath of the 2014 referendum – to forge new, creative, cross-border collaborations between two ‘close friends’ united by common bonds and shared traditions.

Keith Shaw

Here Professor Keith Shaw of Northumbria University, who led the seminar series, writes about the effect on the relationship between Scotland and the North East of England and forthcoming potential outcomes following Brexit.

One of the collaborative opportunities identified – and subsequently taken up – in the ESRC seminar series Close Friends’? Assessing the impact of greater Scottish autonomy on the North of England was for the five local authorities adjacent to the Scotland border to promote greater cross-border economic collaboration and ensure that a stronger voice for the borderlands area is developed.
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