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Parliamentary Academic Fellowship

Dr SIles-Brugge

Dr Gabriel Siles-Brügge

Reader in Public Policy, Department of Politics and International Studies (PAIS)


Between April 2017 and July 2019, I spent 2 days a week in Westminster as a Parliamentary Academic Fellow assisting the UK House of Commons International Trade Committee (ITC). Embedded in the Committee policy team, I contributed to numerous briefings to MPs and to five Committee reports – including on UK trade policy transparency and scrutiny, UK-US trade relations and UK investment policy. My research interests include the politics of trade and investment negotiations and the political economy of Brexit, including the UK’s emerging post-Brexit trade policy. My research helped the House of Commons ITC investigate and understand the political determinants and effects of trade policymaking.

What prompted you to engage with this project/policy?

At the time that this Fellowship was being advertised, I was already quite actively involved in public engagement and knowledge exchange activities at an EU-level, following the very contentious debate surrounding the proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Since 2016 I have been a Scientific Advisor on Trade Policy to the European Public Health Alliance, a Brussels-based NGO campaigning for improved public health. With the vote for Brexit, and the increased attention given to trade policy in the UK following the referendum, I felt that I could play a role in assisting in the scrutiny of Government policy.

Where did you hear about it and who did you contact?

I heard of the opportunity through Stephanie Seavers, who was then the Impact Officer for the Social Sciences. Stephanie was also extremely helpful at guiding me through the initial application process.

What advice would you give to other academics on engaging with policy and policymakers?

I would urge academics to see engagement with policymakers as a two-way conversation: yes, you have something to add, but there is also a lot that you can learn from practitioners. When I reflect back on my Fellowship with ITC, I’m aware of how much I learned about Brexit and the UK Parliament from all the talented people in Parliament I was lucky to work with. This has without doubt significantly enriched my understanding and future research. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge (of engaging with policymakers)! Working with the ITC was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

What support did you receive?

Funding for the project was provided by an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account. The Parliamentary Fellowship was also facilitated by the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) – where I would like to highlight the support of Caroline Kenny and Sarah Foxen. I am also extremely grateful to the PAIS Research Office, and especially Gary Fisher and Jill Pavey, for their help in securing and managing the project – as well as to my Head of Department at the time, Nick Vaughan Williams, for his support. I am equally indebted to all the people I worked with in Parliament, from whom I learned immensely about the UK Parliament and how it works. I am especially grateful here to the two Clerks of ITC I had the pleasure of working with, Lydia Menzies and Joanna Welham, for their faith in the Fellowship scheme and the opportunity to work in Westminster.

Find out more - Read Dr Siles-Brügge's input into the following International Trade Committee reports: