The Union and Unionism – Past, Present and Future

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  •  Monday, 21 May, 2018
     8:30 - 15:45

Policy Exchange hosted a major conference considering the future of the Union, with keynote speeches from Ruth Davidson, Alistair Darling, Michael Gove, Arlene Foster, Brandon Lewis, Jim Murphy and Theresa Villiers. In bringing together speakers from different parties, different nations and opposite sides of the Brexit debate, we demonstrated that unionism can be the bridge between the different elements in our divided society.

Morning sessions

A New National Consensus? Building a Union Which Endures

Opening remarks by Rt Hon Michael Gove MP. Chaired by Jason Cowley, New Statesman.

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Unionism in Historical Context

A panel discussion with Professor Colin Kidd, Wardlaw Professor of Modern History, University of St Andrews and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford; Professor Lord Bew of Donegore, cross-bench peer and Professor Emeritus, Queens’ University Belfast; Naomi Lloyd-Jones, Political Historian, Hertford College, Oxford and King’s College London; and William Shawcross CVO, official biographer of HM The Queen and the Queen Mother, former Chairman of the Charity Commission of England and Wales. Chaired by Dean Godson, Director of Policy Exchange.

An Awkward Relationship? Ulster Unionism and the Rest of the UK

Keynote address by Rt Hon Arlene Foster MLA PC, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and former First Minister of Northern Ireland; and response from Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

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England and the Union

Speech by Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP, Chairman of the Conservative and Unionist Party; response by Rt Hon Jim Murphy, former Secretary of State for Scotland and former Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

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Afternoon sessions

Future Challenges to the Union: English and Welsh Nationalism and Social Cohesion

Panel discussion with Professor Arthur Aughey, Professor Emeritus at Ulster University and author of The Politics of Englishness; Lord Glasman, Labour peer and political theorist, academic and social commentator; and Rt Hon Lord Murphy of Torfaen PC KCMCO KSG, former Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland. Chaired by David Goodhart, Policy Exchange Head of Demography, Immigration and Integration.

Prospects for Scottish Unionism

Keynote speech by Rt Hon Ruth Davidson MSP, Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party and MSP for Edinburgh Central; response by Rt Hon Lord Darling of Roulanish, Chancellor of the Exchequer 2007–2010, MP for Edinburgh South West 1987-2015, former Chairman of the Better Together campaign.

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