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Stretching the Constitution

The Brexit Shock in Historic Perspective

By: Andrew Blick
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Published: 15-10-2020
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 376
ISBN: 9781509945344
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Series: Hart Studies in Constitutional Law
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £31.99
Online price : £28.79
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About Stretching the Constitution

How far did the European Union (EU) referendum result of 23 June 2016 really justify and necessitate the policies executed in response to it? What are the implications of that vote and its prolonged aftermath for the United Kingdom (UK) constitution? What other challenges does our political system face? This book seeks to answer these questions. It considers from a constitutional perspective the way in which the decision to leave the EU was taken and then implemented, discussing in particular the role of Parliament. It includes a close analysis of the referendum legislation, and relevant Commons debates. Adapting methods from applied history, the author considers the wider implications of Brexit by assessing a series of proposals for constitutional reform produced in the UK since 1900. He addresses features of the UK system including referendums, representative democracy, Parliament, devolution, and the executive, from both an historic and contemporary point of view. The book assesses other issues that do not arise directly from Brexit but that have constitutional implications and a global aspect to them. They include political applications of the Internet and climate change. Finally, the author makes a series of proposals for reforms that will help the democratic system of the UK to adapt to its changing environment.

Table Of Contents

Part 1: Brexit and the constitution
Chapter 1 The constitutional connotations
Chapter 2 The basis for the 2016 referendum: law, politics and the constitution
Part 2: The Past and the Future
Chapter 3 Multi-state organisations
Chapter 4 Advocating the referendum
Chapter 5 Representative democracy: reform and challenge
Chapter 6 Programmes for Parliament
Chapter 7 The territorial constitution
Chapter 8 The executive: organisation, power and constraint
Chapter 9 The digital constitution


Stretching the Constitution by Andrew Blick, a constitutional scholar, is refreshing in that it employs a unique approach by seeking to place Brexit within the wider context of constitutional reform debates going back over the course of the past century... The historical context provided to contemporary debates is insightful, but also very instructive in introducing the modern reader to materials of which they would in many instances have been ignorant or unaware. Anyone who purports to be a scholar of constitutional affairs should read Stretching the Constitution.” –  Dr Gary Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Law at Liverpool John Moores University, LSE Review of Books

Stretching the Constitution is insightful and thought-provoking. The book is recommended to scholars of constitutional affairs as well as to “political junkies” curious about the historical parallels and precedents behind the Brexit process.” –  Donata Krakowski-White, Canadian Law Library Review

“This book brutally dissects the democratic calamity our constitutional system brought upon itself through the European Union referendum of June 2016. But it also gives cause for optimism. By looking to the past, the author uncovers possible solutions to many of the dilemmas we face today. They range from the tension between direct and representative government to the abuse of online campaigning. All those concerned about the future of the United Kingdom constitution must read Blick's latest work.” –  Graham Allen, Visiting Professor, King's College London. Chair of the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, 2010–2015.,

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