Creating new conversations
Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have re-ignited or prompted new debates about how political authority is organised within, and across different parts of, the UK. There are several different and increasing pressures on the UK’s territorial constitution: the prospect of a second independence referendum in Scotland; questions about the role and effectiveness of England’s Combined Authorities; and continuing uncertainty around the position of Northern Ireland in a post-Brexit UK and EU. Here in Wales, important constitutional questions are also on the political agenda. The Senedd election in May 2021 saw political parties campaign both to abolish the Welsh Parliament and for Welsh independence, and First Minister Mark Drakeford has recently promised a new ‘national conversation’ about Wales’s constitutional future.
These territorial pressures undoubtedly threaten the stability and integrity of the UK state. So far, however, the debate about the UK’s constitutional future has mostly consisted of occasional interventions by individual politicians and commentators; there is very little serious discussion of, or reflection on, the constitutional future of the UK.
In particular, whilst decisions about the territorial organisation of political authority have far-reaching policy implications for the everyday lives or ordinary citizens, there are few opportunities for citizens to think about, and contribute to, debates about the UK’s territorial constitution.
This project aims to start new conversations about how we should be governed, as the basis for imagining different constitutional futures. It explores innovative ways of engaging citizens in discussions about territorial governance that affect them but rarely include them.