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UK Politics – Devolution

4. Devolution and Brexit

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In this module, we consider devolution in the aftermath of Brexit, focusing in particular on: (i) common frameworks; (ii) the 2020 United Kingdom Internal Market Act (UKIMA) and its principles of mutual recognition and non-discrimination; (iii) how this potentially reduces the reach of devolved laws; (iv) examples of how UKIMA might make it difficult for devolved governments to achieve policy goals, e.g. in the case of single-use plastics; (v) the significance of UKIMA as the first time since devolution in 1998 where significant changes to devolved powers have been made without their consent; (vi) marginalisation of devolved governments from the Brexit process; (vii) the insight that UK devolution looks more fragile than ever in the aftermath of Brexit.


In this course, Professor Nicola McEwen examines devolution in the United Kingdom. In the first lecture, we outline what devolution is, how it differs from federalism, and the key terminology involved in understanding devolution. In the second lecture, we take a much closer and more critical look at this historical background to devolution. In the third, we highlight the different devolved and reserved powers across Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In the fourth, we consider devolution in the aftermath of Brexit and discuss the problems created by the 2020 United Kingdom Internal Market Act (UKIMA). In our fifth lecture, we turn to England. We first explore some initial failed attempts to devolve in England, as in the North-East referendum of 2004, before moving on to consider the asymmetric devolution deals struck with combined regional authorities across some city regions in England over the last decade. In the sixth and final lecture, we wrap up with a conclusion underlining the territorial complexity of the UK constitution and highlighting the various strains on the relationship between the UK government and regional devolved governments in the aftermath of Covid-19, Brexit and UKIMA.


Nicola McEwen has published widely in the field of territorial politics, nationalism, devolution, and multi-level parties and elections. She is actively involved in informing debate within the wider policy and political community. She frequently provides expert media commentary and advice to parliamentarians and governments and is Co-Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change. Other recent research projects include an ESRC Senior Scotland Fellowship exploring the implications of Scottish independence for cross-border relations. She is also a Fellow of the Constitution Unit at University College London.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McEwen, N. (2022, January 05). UK Politics – Devolution - Devolution and Brexit [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McEwen, N. "UK Politics – Devolution – Devolution and Brexit." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 05 Jan 2022,

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