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Professor Phil Syrpis to work with House of Commons Library to help brief MPs on Brexit

House of Commons

Professor Phil Syrpis to provide expertise in EU Law to contribute to the work of the House of Commons Library and relevant Select Committees

Press release issued: 20 April 2017

As part of a knowledge exchange fellowship, Professor Syrpis will provide expertise in EU Law to contribute to the work of the House of Commons Library and relevant Select Committees.

Commencing today, a knowledge exchange fellowship between PolicyBristol at the University of Bristol and the House of Commons Service (April – October 2017) will see Professor Syrpis assisting with the production of impartial briefings and research in targeted areas. These will include: the Article 50 process, the conclusion and ratification of any withdrawal deal, the Great Repeal Bill, the repatriation of EU powers, immigration reform and trade law.

In exchange, Jack Simson Caird, a senior constitutional law specialist at the House of Commons, will be spending time at the University of Bristol during summer 2017 to deepen his understanding of his subject areas, including:  UK constitutional law and Brexit. Dr Simson Caird will also be providing sessions for academics on the role of the House of Commons Library and how to engage effectively with the parliamentary process. For students studying public law, he will input to units on Parliament and the constitution.

The aim of the knowledge exchange fellowship is:

  • for the University of Bristol to develop a clearer understanding of the workings of the Parliamentary process, and the information needs of MPs, so that academic contributions to the Brexit debate can be more effectively presented and targeted to increase their impact - particularly in terms of informing the scrutiny process and encouraging public engagement.
  • For the House of Commons Service to increase the level of expertise in EU law available to MPs, both through Prof Phil Syrpis’ engagement with the Library and Committees - and for Jack Simson Caird to be able to strengthen his own expertise and contribution to the Library briefing service through this practical academic engagement.

Professor Syrpis said:

 “This is a great opportunity to enhance the impact of the research the School is undertaking in relation to Brexit and set in place an ongoing and developing collaboration between the Law School and the House of Commons. It is hoped that benefits of the Fellowship will be felt widely, both within the School and Faculty, and the University more broadly.” 

Penny Young, House of Commons Librarian said:

“Brexit poses a policy challenge of unprecedented scale and complexity. The House of Commons Library provides a vital source of impartial briefing for MPs as they seek to scrutinise the Brexit process and answer the many questions from their constituents.  We already work with a range of academics as part of various fellowship schemes, and we’re keen to explore this knowledge exchange approach to enhance the analysis that both organisations can offer.”

The knowledge exchange fellowship coincides with Professor Syrpis’ study leave for the 2017-18 academic year.

This is a PolicyBristol Fellowship, recently launched by PolicyBristol as part of a broader knowledge exchange fellowship scheme. The aim of these fellowships is to explore, develop, or formalise partnerships between researchers and policymakers and to support research knowledge exchange and policy impact.

For more information see:

This knowledge exchange complements the UK Parliament’s existing range of academic engagement opportunities.  The UK Parliament already offers a number of schemes for academic researchers at every stage of their career and from different subject areas giving them the rare opportunity to work on specific projects from inside Westminster’s walls.

The Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme, run by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and endorsed by the Research Councils, gives academics the chance to work on specific projects proposed by offices inside Parliament, as well as enabling academics to propose their own project ideas.

The House of Commons Fellowship Scheme, run in partnership with the Political Studies Association (PSA), has awarded five fellowships to senior political and social scientists from universities across the UK. These Fellowship Schemes provide academics with the opportunity to increase the impact of their research, to build public understanding of Parliament, as well as to inform, evaluate and enhance Parliament’s work and that of its Members. 

For more information about these schemes and others available, see:

Further information

Professor Syrpis is an expert on the EU treaties. He has recently been filmed talking about the triggering of Article 50 - and has published academic research on a wide range of subjects relevant to Brexit, including EU employment law, EU trade law, free movement, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Union’s institutional framework.  In the wake of the referendum result, Phil Syrpis has been using his expertise to contribute to public engagement and policy briefings, producing a number of articles and blog posts on the EU law questions surrounding Article 50, including in relation to the Miller litigation. These have included a Policy Briefing and blog post for Policy Bristol, contributions on the blog, and participation in the Guardian’s ‘Brexit Means’ Podcast.

Jack Simson Caird is a Senior Library Clerk in the Parliament and Constitution Centre in the House of Commons Library. His subject specialisms include: the courts, judicial review and human rights. He has been covering the Great Repeal Bill and the Article 50 legal challenge. Mr Simson-Caird will be presenting a paper on the dialogue between Parliament and the Courts after Brexit at the International Constitutional Law Association conference in Copenhagen in July 2017 and will be working on this paper during his time in Bristol.

About the House of Commons Library 

Our range of impartial briefings and material will help you separate out the facts and provide detailed analysis of all the key policy issues.

• Research briefings covering all major pieces of legislation and many private Members’ bills
• Topical briefings analysing major policy areas 
• Regular statistical papers such as ‘Economic Indicators’ (inflation, GDP, productivity) and Unemployment by Constituency
• Debate packs that compile key parliamentary proceedings and media articles on issues being debated in the Commons

Short, topical blogs, posted weekly on


About PolicyBristol

PolicyBristol works to enhance the influence and impact of policy-relevant research from across the University of Bristol. It is an integral part of the University of Bristol, and works to:

  • Translate research findings into policy messages
  • Communicate policy-relevant research findings via briefing papers, reports, events, newsletters & social media
  • Build networks & collaborations between Bristol’s researchers & external groups and stakeholders
  • Provide a 'horizon scanning’ service of the policy environment for Bristol academics
  • Support Bristol academics to engage in impact and knowledge exchange-related activity, through training, funding and advice
  • Build connections and capacity for policy development
  • Strengthen the University of Bristol’s contribution to effective policy development and delivery



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