Litigating the Constitution in a Divided Society

The UK’s decision to exit the European Union has triggered much constitutional uncertainty in the UK; the victory of the Conservative Party in the 2019 general election may have settled some uncertainties but fundamental tensions exist. Not least this relates to the fact that two constituent parts of the UK – Scotland and Northern Ireland – voted against Brexit. Even more tensions emerge in relation to Northern Ireland, because Brexit risks unpicking elements of the Good Friday Agreement and peace process. Certainly the UK’s exit from the EU exposes problems in some ways of implementing the Agreement in the UK. Individuals, civil society and political figures have used litigation to ensure that the exit takes place compatibly with the rule of law and with the Good Friday Agreement, as well as initiating litigation around the frequently unexamined ‘birthright’ provision of the Agreement that recognises the right of the people of Northern Ireland to be British or Irish or both.