Intergovernmental relations in the UK: Time for a radical overhaul?

Nicola McEwen, Michael Kenny, Jack Sheldon, Coree Brown Swan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic have put relationships between the UK government and its devolved counterparts under growing strain. Tensions generated by both of these developments have exposed the inadequacies of the existing, under‐developed system for bringing governments together in the UK. The limitations of the current system include the ad hoc nature of intergovernmental meetings, and their consultative rather than decision‐making character. Drawing upon an analysis of how intergovernmental relationships are structured in five other countries, the authors offer a number of suggestions for the reconfiguration of the UK model. They explore different ways of enabling joint decision making by its governments, and argue against the assumption that England can be represented adequately by the UK administration. Without a serious attempt to address this dysfunctional part of the UK’s territorial constitution, there is every prospect that relations between these different governments will continue to deteriorate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-640
Number of pages9
JournalThe Political Quarterly
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2020


  • British politics
  • Brexit
  • devolution
  • territorial politics
  • intergovernmental relations


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