Who Takes Britain to War?

One day workshop 20th January 2016

Department of Politics & IR, University of Leicester

In the summer of 2013 the British Parliament voted against taking Britain to war in Syria. This was the culmination of a noted trend in which the British Prime Minister has sought some kind of approval or legitimacy from Parliament when committing Britain’s armed forces abroad. Historically, the Prime Minister has had the authority to take the country to war based upon the Royal Prerogative. However, since the early 1990s a number of political figures from both sides of the House have argued that this power is increasingly illegitimate. This potentially represents a profound shift in power over the most existential decision that a state can make.

There are a number of broader questions raised by this constitutional change and the aim of this workshop will be to consider this shift in broader political and historical context. For example, where does the locus of authority for war making now in fact lie? Has it moved to Parliament or is it dispersed? What does the shift away from the Royal Prerogative say about British political legitimacy and authority? How can we understand the increasing lack of trust in government that develops in the 90s? What are the full constitutional implications of the shift? Is this a cross party consensus? What are public attitudes to conflict? What kinds of conflict is Britain engaging in today? What are the future implications?

The workshop will be an opportunity to draw together academics and policy makers who are working directly on this constitutional shift but also on related questions.

We invite papers addressing the questions above but certainly not limited to them. Please email the conveners Dr Tara McCormack tm155@le.ac.uk or Dr Ben Clements bc101@le.ac.uk with an abstract by October 1st. There will be limited travel funding available.

 Supported & sponsored by the BISA Foreign Policy Working Group, the Department of Politics & IR, University of Leicester and with the kind support of the Remote Control Project