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British Politics

The liberal philosopher A.C. Grayling is one of the foremost opponents of Brexit. No doubt he salutes the bravery of those Tory MPs dubbed ‘mutineers’ by the Daily Telegraph when they brought about Theresa May’s first Commons defeat as they supported an amendment to her EU withdrawal bill to give Parliament a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal”. These Tory MPs defied the so-called ‘party whip’. Whips are MPs appointed by parties in Parliament to do what they can to make sure party members vote the way the party wants. Grayling is not a fan of the whipping system in general: he regards whipping as ‘undemocratic’, and he connects it to increasing levels of mistrust in MPs and …

The chasm between what the presidencies of Trump and Biden mean for the ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK has starkly demonstrated how dependent the UK is on the occupant of the White House for its relationship with the US. It would be easy for the UK to forget the lessons it learned from engaging with Trump, who put less value on the bilateral relationship with the UK, because of the comparative enthusiasm of President Biden. However, it is exactly  the experience of  the Trump era that should convince UK policymakers to think about how to insulate the UK from volatility in the White House. US-UK cooperation on areas like security and defence will never be in question, but the likelihood of a broad trade deal, …
Woman receives an injection

As we enter 2021 and the Covid-19 pandemic rumbles on, optimism for the coming year relies heavily on successful vaccine rollout. Attention is now increasingly focussed on the practicalities of distribution, which will involve prioritisation and difficult policy decisions. Few argue about those groups right at the top of the list like care home residents, or healthcare staff working in high risk settings. However, an important population is less on the radar: people in prison. There are around 11 million people in prison around the world. Most will be in environments that make social distancing and other measures to reduce transmission, now a routine part of day-to-day community life for most, much more challenging. Such conditions can make prisons vulnerable …

On 14 July, following legal proceedings, the National Archives of Australia released correspondence between Sir John Kerr, who served as Governor General of Australia from 1974–77, and Sir Martin Charteris, the Principal Private Secretary (PPS) to the queen. The letters concern Kerr’s decision to dismiss Gough Whitlam, the Labor Prime Minister, who was then locked in a battle between the House of Representatives, where he held a majority, and the Senate, which opposed him and was blocking supply (the federal budget).  Leading scholars, such as Anne Twomey, as well as Buckingham Palace, have argued that the letters contain no smoking gun connecting Kerr’s actions to the monarch or her PPS. However, we believe that we can see a wisp of smoke. And it lingered. Kerr and Charteris …

Welcome to the OxPol Blogcast, a podcast where we will be sharing research, analysis, and experiences from members of the University of Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations. On each, episode we will talk to a guest about a piece they’ve written for the OxPol Blog. Then, we’ll discuss their larger research agenda, their insights on conducting political science, and their time at Oxford. On the inaugural episode of the OxPol BlogCast, host Chase Harrison talks to DPhil student Christine Sheldon about the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. They go on to discuss her research on coalitions and her work on natural speech processing. Read Christine’s original blog post here

In the month of November, Boris Johnson’s government will most likely instate a committee review of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (FTPA) with the ultimate goal of fully repealing it. This Act, introduced in 2011, was supposed to fix the date of the general election to be every five years. Its planned repeal is part of a number of sweeping constitutional reforms that would empower the British executive over Parliament, which the Conservative Party vowed to push for in its 2019 electoral manifesto. With the ongoing global pandemic and the protracted Brexit talks with Brussels, the Conservative’s plan to repeal the FTPA have largely flown under the public’s radar. Yet if a repeal goes through, it would have a significant …

The past five years have been deemed a “Golden Era” in Britain-China relations, with the two countries promoting bilateral trade and investments. However, as the Coronavirus pandemic marches on, this relationship seems to be souring. Voices in Britain, especially in Conservative environments, have raised need to rethink or reset the nation’s relationship with China, who is accused of misinforming and mismanaging the pandemic. While Coronavirus is exacerbating tensions, it would though be incorrect to blame it fully for the chill in relations. A distancing from China was already occurring prior to the pandemic.  The foundations of the “Golden Era” were established during the Conservatives’ return to government in 2010. Chinese investments in the United Kingdom were seen as a key source …

On Twitter, conversations around Scotland’s independence, dampened momentarily by a failed referendum in 2014, have been reinvigorated with the advent of Brexit. This article examines how public sentiment towards Scottish independence varies across the United Kingdom’s four constituent nations (England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland) by analyzing tweets made in January of this year in lead up to Brexit. Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of tweets totaling 4,462 (71.4%) on the subject were sent from the mainland of Scotland. 1,387 (22.2%) tweets were sent from England, whereas Wales and Northern Ireland have 286 and 212 tweets respectively, collectively accounting for less than 6% of the all tweets (see Figure 1). Despite the significant difference in the volume of tweets, the …

Debates over Brexit have been “dominated by a yearning for restoring UK sovereignty”. The Brexit vote during June 2016 was declared  as an independence day by key members of the leave campaign. Similarly, such sentiments have been used about the exit day on which the UK is to leave the EU under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act   Independence is often perceived as one decisive moment – a clean break with the past and a new beginning. However, this article posits that independence might be better thought of as a gradual process, characterized by both change and continuity. Taking the example of the development of Australia’s foreign policy post-federation, the article showcases that de jure sovereignty does not automatically or immediately result in de facto …