Brexit and the (Possible) Break-up of the UK: A Study in Failed Federalism

The ANU Centre for European Studies, together with the Australian Centre for Federalism, are pleased to present this public lecture by Professor Iain McLean.

The vote in the UK’s 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union was regionally diverse. London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland voted to Remain, the first two strongly so. Wales, and most of England outside London, voted to Leave. Regional grievances, both in Leave and in Remain areas, have built up alongside a failure to think through any consistent form of devolution or federalism for the UK.

In the aftermath of the vote to Leave, the unity of the country is at risk. The Scottish National Party has a new reason to argue for independence. The Irish land border is such an intractable issue that it may derail the whole Brexit project, and the position of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, which upholds the minority Conservative government, is deeply paradoxical.

In this public lecture, Professor McLean will discuss federal models that might have prevented or mitigated this mess, with reference to Australia and Canada.

Register now on Eventbrite

Download the event flyer (PDF 347.96 KB)

Professor Iain McLean is a fellow of Nuffield College. He is a specialist in federalism and has published extensively on fiscal federalism in the UK, Canada, and Australia. A regular visitor to Canberra, he has studied the Commonwealth Grants Commission over a number of years. Born in Edinburgh and holding Irish citizenship, he is fascinated by the politics of both Scotland and Ireland. In his spare time, Professor McLean drives steam trains in Wales and sings in Anglican cathedrals.

Date & time

Thu 21 Sep 2017, 12am


The Nye Hughes Room ANU Centre for European Studies The Australian National University Building #67C, 1 Liversidge Street Acton ACT 2601


Professor Iain McLean, Senior Research Fellow in Politics, Director, Gwilym Gibbon Centre for Public Policy, Professor of Politics, Oxford University


ANU Centre for European Studies
02 6125 9896


Updated:  1 September 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications