Constitutional Pluralism After Brexit

Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies, Forthcoming

Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2019/03

24 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2019

Date Written: February 4, 2019


This contribution will examine the usefulness and relevance of the idea of constitutional pluralism with respect to the relationship between the EU and UK legal systems as well as the role of constitutional pluralism as a guiding principle of future institutional reform at the EU level. To the extent to which the UK’s decision to withdraw from the European Union can be interpreted as a reassertion of the classic ideas of Westphalian sovereign statehood, it seems to question the utility of constitutional pluralism which is a resolutely ‘post-sovereign’ model of relations between state administrations and their supranational counterparts. The paper looks at the various features and relationships affected by the Brexit process analysing the relevance of constitutional pluralism to each relationship pre- and post- Brexit, namely: the relationship between the UK constitution and EU law pre- and post-Brexit and relatedly, the relationship between UK courts and EU courts pre- and post-Brexit; as well as future institutional reform in an EU of 27 member states. The paper concludes that, whereas Brexit clearly affects the different relationships involved, constitutional pluralism can and will remain relevant to EU/UK relations as well as within the EU, well into the future. This finding, in turn, raises broader questions as to the extent to which such classic understandings of sovereignty which were influential in the movement for Brexit, have any relevance in an increasingly interdependent world.

Keywords: Constitutional Pluralism, Brexit, EU law, Sovereignty

Suggested Citation

Mac Amhlaigh, Cormac S., Constitutional Pluralism After Brexit (February 4, 2019). Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies, Forthcoming; Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2019/03. Available at SSRN: or

Cormac S. Mac Amhlaigh (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh - School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

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