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Parliamentary sovereignty, Brexit's impact on party unity and the UK's handling of the financial crisis

The impact of referendum on Parliamentary sovereignty, how the UK managed the financial crisis and the impact of Brexit on party unity were just some of the topics discussed at a recent conference held by the Centre for British Politics and Government.

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Big Ben, London, United Kingdom

The conference brought together nine PhD students from across King’s to share their research and featured a highly perceptive keynote talk from Roger Mortimore, Professor of Public Opinion and Public Analysis, titled ‘Opinion Polling in Fraught Times’.

PhD student Adrian Carter, from The Dickson Poon School of Law, outlined how the use of referendum since 1973 has called into question the relationship between Parliament and the people.

Looking at the measures adopted to try to fit such votes into the prevailing doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy, he says it raises questions about whether Parliamentary and popular sovereignty can continue to co-exist.

The conference, held on 11 September, also heard from Eleanor Hallam whose thesis has created the first definitive history of the UK’s management of the financial crisis between 2007 and 2009.

She shared her findings around the challenges faced by HM Treasury during the crisis including the steep learning curve the UK faced in 2007 before taking a prominent leadership role by Autumn 2008. She also highlighted the opportunities and challenges of using contemporary paper and digital records for researchers.

The delegates in attendance at the Anatomy Museum also heard from Artin Amjady, European and International Studies, who presented his findings around how the first past the post system has historically ensured that political parties have been able to contain factions within them and be seen as “a broad church”. However, he told the conference that this is being tested by the constitutional changes brought on by Brexit.

An important part of what we do at the Centre is showcasing all the important multi-disciplinary research being carried out here at King's that intersects with British politics and government. This work is going on not only among academic staff, but also at PhD level, as this event demonstrated. We were also delighted that it was led by the students themselves. It will provide a model for how to run this kind of event in future.– Dr Andrew Blick, Director of the Centre for British Politics and Government

Other research presented at the conference included the representation of ethnic minority populations within Parliament, how the electoral importance of certain groups affects tax and social security policies and how attitudes towards automation influence policy preferences.