Unwritten Rule

Stephen Green, Thomas Legg and Martin Donnelly

‘Brexit has put in question much of the traditional fabric of the constitution. Unwritten Rule is a brave attempt to show how it can be remoulded. While few will agree with all of the proposed remedies, this book will undoubtedly reinvigorate the debate. It is written with clarity and verve by experienced practitioners in government.
Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Government, King’s College, London

‘A timely, compelling and extremely important contribution to the most pressing political debate of the next decade. Can we reinvent the UK for the next century as it has so often been reinvented in the past? The authors suggest a series of positives steps, including constitutional reform and significant devolution in England, in the hope that the nations and regions of the UK can find enough common ground to prevent a painful dissolution of the Union.’
Gavin Esler, author of How Britain Ends

‘This book makes a valuable contribution to the constitutional debate. Unlike many others, it does not pull its punches. It recognises the urgency and seriousness of the situation, and is willing to countenance quite far-reaching changes in order to avoid constitutional calamity.’
Dr W. Elliot Bulmer, University of Dundee


The integrity of the UK is under threat. In fact, is it too late to save the Union? Not yet, write Stephen Green, Thomas Legg, and Martin Donnelly – but to so will require extensive reform, crucially of the UK’s constitution. And the national discussion must begin now. In Unwritten Rule, the authors add an authoritative voice to the conversation, identifying first the flaws in the UK’s constitution and second the opportunities we must seize if the Union is to remain a meaningful part of our identity and to serve its people effectively.

STEPHEN GREEN was Chair of HSBC between 2006 and 2010 and later Minister of State for Trade and Investment in the Coalition Government from 2011 to 2013. He has been a member of the House of Lords since 2010.

SIR THOMAS LEGG served as a career civil servant in the Lord Chancellor’s Department (now the Ministry of Justice), and served as Permanent Secretary under three Prime Ministers from 1989-1998.

SIR MARTIN DONNELLY was Permanent Secretary of the Departments for Business and Department of International Trade from 2010 to 2017. He worked in a range of central government departments including the Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, and Treasury.

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