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Theresa May

It takes some considerable effort to remember Theresa May’s time as prime minister. Her two governments ran from the resignation of David Cameron immediately after the political earthquake of the Brexit referendum in 2016, to May’s own tearful resignation in the summer of 2019 as the aftershocks swallowed her minority government. The distending effects of the past three years of UK (and world) politics have already made the May era a kind of historical curiosity. The consequent danger is that we look back to her stint as prime minister as the last gasp of sensible politics avant le déluge.

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A key argument deployed by those in favour of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union concerned the restoration of parliamentary sovereignty. One of the ironies of Brexit is that some of the leading figures who argued for parliamentary sovereignty during the 2016 referendum tried to shut down Parliament three years later so that they could ‘get Brexit done’. This attack on a representative institution was part of an international pattern of democratic backsliding during the 2010s. For the authors of this new book, understanding the internal dynamics of Parliament during the Brexit years forms part of an effort to ‘defend democracy and its institutions’. 

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