Still Better Together? Purpose and Power in Intergovernmental Councils in the UK

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Abstract

Intergovernmental relations in the United Kingdom were intended to be predominantly informal, but a machinery of intergovernmental councils (IGCs) developed alongside informal relations. This article examines the development, purpose and dynamics of the UK’s IGCs, with a particular focus on the multilateral Joint Ministerial Committee and the bilateral Joint Exchequer Committees. These IGCs remain weakly institutionalized and multilateral forums, in particular, are regarded by the devolved governments as providing limited opportunities for exercising influence. By contrast,bilateral IGCs have enabled devolved governments to utilize a range of non-constitutional resources to exert influence, irrespective of their relative constitutional weakness. The Brexit referendum generated an intensification of multilateral IGCs while exposing their weaknesses as forums for the exercise of shared rule. The purpose and dynamics within IGCs are shaped by the asymmetrical distribution of power, continued constitutional hierarchy,party competition and competing nationalist projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-690
Number of pages24
JournalRegional & Federal Studies
Volume27
Issue number5
Early online date19 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • UK
  • devolution
  • intergovernmental relations
  • JMC
  • JEC
  • brexit

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