Aileen McHarg and Alison L. Young: The Resilience of the (Old) British Constitution – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘In 2009, Vernon Bogdanor wrote about The New British Constitution. His thesis was that a decade of New Labour reforms had produced a shift in the nature of the constitution, from one based on parliamentary sovereignty, to one based on the “sovereignty of the constitution”. Since 2009, further constitutional reforms have been implemented by governments of various political stripes, apparently consolidating the legalisation of the constitution, and the dispersal of power from the institutions of central government to Parliament, the devolved institutions, and the courts. The New British Constitution appeared to be firmly established. Recent events, however, demonstrate the shaky foundations of this new constitutionalism, with a growing trend towards a weakening of both legal and political checks on Governmental power. This blog post draws attention to this worrying trend, focusing on three key examples. It is based on the findings of the first report of the Constitutional Monitoring Group (of which the authors are both members), established to provide a biannual barometer of the state of constitutional principles in the UK. The report raises concerns not just about the potential consequences of this trend, but of the piecemeal and rapid manner in which it is occurring, with some important constitutional changes appearing to happen under the radar.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 8th September 2021