29th June 2021
Every so often someone posts or tweets a succinct summary of the direness of a predicament.
And yesterday the Guardian live blog managed to put all the following into a single blog update:
None of these are a check or balance in the classic constitutional sense, such as the judiciary or parliament as a whole (though, of course, the speaker is one of the five).
And if only one of these example were sidelines, one could dismiss it as part of the rough tumbles of practical politics.
But taking all five together, there is a trend that should concern anyone – apart from the hyper-partisan supporters of the government.
Each example tells of the lack of constitutional self-restraint that that is the stuff of constitutionalism.
(Constitutionalism being the view that there are political rules and norms that have priority over partisan advantage.)
And these five examples are in addition to the disregard the prime minister has to the checks and balances in the classic constitutional sense: the judiciary, parliament, the independent civil service and diplomatic corps.
This is not – yet – a constitutional crisis, for as the two Miller cases and the Benn Act show, it is still possible for other elements of the constitution to ultimately assert themselves.
But is certainly all part of an ongoing assault on constitutionalism.
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