Brexit and Scotland

Aileen McHarg*, James Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the 2016 Brexit referendum, Scotland voted decisively to Remain in the EU, while a UK-wide majority voted to Leave. This article discusses responses to the constitutional significance of a territorially divided result, both prior to and following the referendum, including in litigation over the ‘constitutional requirements’ necessary to trigger the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU under Article 50 TEU (R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union). It considers what these debates reveal about the uncertain and contested nature of the UK’s territorial constitution, focusing on issues of constitutional security for devolved institutions and competences, and constitutional voice for the devolved territories in handling issues of intertwined competence. It argues that the Brexit episode reveals major weaknesses in the dominant reliance on political mechanisms to give recognition to the constitutional significance of devolution, which do not adequately displace continued legal adherence to the assumptions of a unitary constitution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-526
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Brexit
  • Miller case
  • Scotland
  • Sewel Convention
  • territorial constitution


Dive into the research topics of 'Brexit and Scotland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this