The Unwritten Constitution

I have found it helpful to discuss the nature of the current constitutional crisis with my friend, Ivan Gaskell, in the Comments section of the blog.

The big problem is obviously that the Prime Minister has chosen to treat the result of the 2016 referendum as constitutionally binding whatever its consequences and without the need either to seek a further mandate for her more detailed proposals, nor to have discussed them in any great depth or secured support for them from either her party or parliament, assuming that what she now proposes is what the people wanted in 2016. So, there is a constitutional impasse. Of course, she may now secure a vote in parliament with the threat – actually, it’s blackmail – that the alternative is No Deal.

But does her deal have a democratic mandate in representing the natural and inevitable outcome of the referendum? I doubt it. People were not asked what sort of out they wanted, irrespective of the consequences. So, to secure a proper and effective mandate for what is now proposed should require a second referendum, on May 2, alongside the local elections, as happened (we may have forgotten) in 2011.

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One thought on “The Unwritten Constitution

  1. Ivan Gaskell says:

    Thanks, Charles. Sooner or later the UK will have to decide where sovereignty lies: with the crown-in-parliament (including royal prerogative powers delegated to ministers) or with the people. Since 1689, it has lain with the former. Any claim that it rests with the people is no more than rhetorical, even though those enfranchised among the people express their will by electing members to the lower house of parliament. (Please bear in mind, though, that I view this crisis of sovereignty as a disenfranchised observer.)

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