History of the Unwritten Constitution in the UK

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The United Kingdom does not have one particular constitutional document named all things considered. Rather, the alleged constitution of the United Kingdom, or British constitution, is a whole of laws and principles that make up the nation’s body politic. This is now and then alluded to as an “unwritten” or un-codified constitution. The British constitution essentially draws from four sources: statute law that goes by the legislature, the common law that is built up through court judgments, parliamentary conventions, and works of authority. Like an altogether written constitution, this aggregate likewise concerns both the connection between the individual and the state and the working of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary.

Since the glorious revolution of 1688, the idea of parliamentary sovereignty has been the bedrock of the British legislative constitution, that is, the statutes go by parliament are the supreme and last wellspring of law in the UK. It takes after that parliament can change the constitution basically by going new statutes through acts of parliament. There has been some civil argument about whether parliamentary sovereignty stayed in place in the light of the UK’s enrolment in the European Union (EU), a contention that was utilized by advocates of leaving the EU in the 2016 submission vote “Brexit“. Another main constitutional principle, the rule of law, is an expression that was advanced by legal scholar a. v. unpredictable in his 1885 work, introduction to the study of the law of the constitution, which is perceived as a work of specialist on the constitution by the British parliament.

The Current British Constitutional Settlement

A vital theme in a significant part of the writing is that the UK does not have a codified constitution and the international peculiarity of this position. The nonappearance of a UK codified constitution is viewed as of considerable noteworthiness in many records however not all. There is disagreement about in the case of existing UK arrangements are desirable, or whether a codified constitution or some likeness thereof ought to be embraced. It is regularly held that setting up a codified UK constitution, where none as of now exists, would be a considerable assignment. One other hand, the vestige and progression of the UK constitution are much of the frequently accentuated; so too is its flexibility.

It is recommended that the lack of a critical moment eventually in history gave by military defeat, colonial independence or revolution clarifies why the UK does not have a codified constitution and also references to the long perseverance and resilience of the un-codified UK constitution, the writing contains the exchange of outstanding codification practices in UK history. At the core of most interpretations of the UK constitution that lie appraisals of ‘parliamentary sovereignty’, a controversial subject, with disputes about the two its nature and desirability. Some believe that a codified constitution could be perfect with the continuation of parliamentary sovereignty. However, the majority of the regularly held view is that there is an immediate decision between both the retention of parliamentary sovereignty and the foundation of a codified constitution.

There is an open deliberation about whether and how parliament can make a codified constitution given the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. Furthermore, another key theme in the writing evaluating the UK constitution is the possibility that it has in late decades and especially since 1997 been subject to increasing change. There is a view that as a result of cumulative changes since the 1970s parliamentary sovereignty that has been disintegrated. Related with the account of constitutional change is a parallel one of pathology, of issues that include created inside the UK settlement; there is thought of the possibility that substantial constitutional change, particularly since 1997 might lead on to full codification and whether it may be methods for settling issues related with the pathology narrative.

Past Proposals for a Codified British Constitution

Since the 1970s, there have been various recommendations for a codified UK constitution. They have been created by people and groups holding a wide variety of different political outlooks. the presence of help for codification from such changed standpoints could be interpreted as a contention for such an activity. Moreover, it may be held that the reasonable ideological content of some of these proposed texts underlines the difficulties inalienable in achieving consensus around a conceivable codified constitution for the UK. The greater part of the proposed constitutions considers codification to be intertwined with a substantial change to the idea of the UK settlement conceivably recommending that such a dynamic may apply to an actual codification of the UK constitution.

There is a tendency to affirm the idea of well-known sovereignty. a large portion of the individuals who propose codified UK constitutions seem to visualize constitutional supremacy as supplanting parliament; with judges ready to rule acts of parliament inconsistent with the constitution and strike them down. On the other hand, there is critical variance in the approach to the issues of the monarchy and the established church. The constitution-designers have a tendency to propose a change to parliament, the way its membership is resolved; and its association with the executive. Some of the proposed constitutions accommodate regressed governance covering the entire of the UK. The association with the European Union is tended to in unique ways.

Each of the constitutions accommodates the protection of rights. Yet they vary over decisively what rights, and their enforceability. The individuals who propose codified constitutions try to dig in them through amendment procedures, frequently, however not generally including referendums. There is some exchange by creators of proposed constitutions of conceivable processes for their establishment, regularly, by and by, including referendums.

Contemporary Challenges

Michael Gordon, senior lecturer in law at the University of Liverpool, specialized in constitutional law, published an article last year in October 2016 named “Brexit: a challenge for the UK constitution, of the UK constitution?” in the European Constitutional Law Review. This article is mainly focused on the two major issues that are the potential challenges for the constitutional system of the UK and whether the constitution in itself influenced the decision to leave the EU.

Brexit as a Challenge for the UK Constitution

In the initial segment of the article, Gordon talks about the potential outcomes of the UK’s departure from the EU in the light of the UK constitution. A few of the challenges such as the transformation of the UK’s legal system that Brexit entails, the involvement of the institutions in the Brexit process and the potential negotiations of new agreements with the rest of the EU member states. Leaving aside how interesting these issues may be, they are principally speculative since the UK’s exit from the EU is still in a beginning period. In spite of the fact that, in January 2017, the UK Supreme Court ruled in the Miller case that parliamentary endorsement was required so as to commence the procedure of leaving the EU. This decision has given some clarity respect to the institutional involvement, yet the rest of the issues are still unresolved. Subsequently, this post mostly concentrates on the second inquiry of Gordon’s article.

Brexit as a Challenge to the UK Constitution

In his article, Gordon raises the question in this segment whether the constitution of the United Kingdom may have contributed towards the decision for leaving the European Union. He further shed light greatly on the fact that the UK does not have a codified constitution instead an un-codified constitution under which the political action is provided with much more space. Gordon has further pointed out that due to the unprecedented nature of the existing EU, any of the member state willing to leave the union will face major challenges in the constitutional process. However, it might be challenging particularly in the UK due to the un-codified nature of its constitution. Furthermore, one of the decisive factors for the referendum outcome that was held for determining whether to remain or exit the EU was the concern of the nation due to the immigration levels caused by the free movement commitment within the EU.

The strong Eurosceptic movement including the fact that the concept of the organisational governance could in some aspects considered incompatible with the constitution of the United Kingdom itself that can also affect the referendum outcomes. Apart from that, the Gordon also stated that the pre-existence of the complications that have provided motivation to the tension among the constitution of the UK and the supranational nature of the EU. Gordon believes that one of the constitutional mechanisms of the UK that control the governmental responsibility and accountability does not correspond properly along the supranational nature of the EU. Gordon further explained that the difficulties that are mentioned above in the constitutional system of the UK which exists already before the Brexit may exacerbate due to this process.

Devolution as a Challenge to the UK Constitution

The UK has a constitution that is unitary as well as it is a multi-national state. However, its institutions and the powers have been traditionally centralised in the Westminster Parliament. Still, the Labour Union has assisted the Liberal Democrats that came into being in the year 1997 and enacted in the year 1998 as a key change into this political model: devolution such as the power transference from central government towards national authorities. However, the devolution was dragged towards democratising the United Kingdom in order to enhance the territorial authorities as well as unite its nations. In addition, devolution must issue a safety valve upon a pent-up nationalistic fervour. Yet the conservatives remained resolutely against any threat towards the integrity of the UK, watching devolution as the thin end of a broad wedge that will fracture ultimately the union entirely.

Challenges for the People Codifying the British Constitution

According to Frank Vibert, senior visiting fellow at the LSE Government Department stated in his article “the challenge for those who wish to codify the UK’s constitution is to make it relevant to voters who may have more pressing concerns” that among the enormous rundown of difficulties that would need to be overcome in any move towards a composed constitution there are two exceptionally practical considerations. The first is that constitutional reform is not a ‘hot button‘ issue for public opinion. Despite what might be expected Frank showed in many comments to the committee that attempting to exhibit salience to voters would be an enormous challenge. Frank recommended that the targeted citizen is not a civil rights activist, however, a working mother who is multi-tasking. The case for codification needs to appear to be important to her. Approval in his view would need to finish a double test, a base extent of eligible voters would need to give their assent and there ought to be a lion’s share in support in each piece of the UK. This twofold obstacle would give an incentive to anybody attracting up a constitution to guarantee that it is extremely important to voters and that a great many people will be alright with it.

Frank further explained that the second practical challenge rotates around the topic of the constitutional ‘minute’, the subject of what occasions, in reality, would make codification a priority concern. Truly it is anything but difficult to identify external shocks as a trigger for a written constitution, for instance, the Soviet withdrawal from Central Europe or an internal crisis, the Arab Spring etc. Frank recommended that an alternate kind of trigger is distinguished in the constitutional economics custom of Nobel Prize winner James Buchanan which takes a gander at the occasion of significant changes to the task of powers in a multi-level arrangement of government. Such changes expect powers to be obviously characterized the conditions for their activity to be clear and for shields to be set up for how they are to be interpreted and worked out. In theory, these progressions are probably going to provoke a move towards written arrangements. The present circumstance in the UK can be described by movements of power, between the UK and the EU as well as amongst Westminster and the decayed parts of the UK. However, there is as yet a stage amongst hypothesis and practice.

After reviewing the current British constitutional settlement, past proposals for a codified British constitution, and contemporary challenges, it can be concluded that the United Kingdom needs to develop a codified constitution in order to overcome these contemporary challenges and issues, particularly Brexit that has become a great challenge for the un-codified constitution of the nation. This will allow the country to sufficiently stabilising their economy that has recently been hit by the Brexit. The most influenced are the people of the Britain who have gone through these events are affected the most. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Parliament to take appropriate steps in order to resolve these issues.

References

  • Aughey, A., 2001. Nationalism, devolution, and the challenge to the United Kingdom State. Pluto Pr.
  • Blick, A. (2011). Codifying – or not codifying – the UK constitution: A Literature Review. For the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. [Online] Centre for Political and Constitutional Studies King’s College London. Available at: http://www.parliament.uk/pagefiles/56954/CPCS%20Literature%20Review%20%284%29.pdf [Accessed 7 Dec. 2017].
  • Bogdanor, V., 2009. The new British constitution. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Caulfield, M., 2012. Constitutional Conventions in the United Kingdom: Should They Be Codified. Manchester Rev. L. Crime & Ethics, 1, p.42.
  • Dickinson, H.T., 2008. Modern Constitutional Ideas and Developments and the Challenge Posed to the British Constitution. EurAmerica, 38(1).
  • Johnson, N., 2004. Reshaping the British constitution: Essays in political interpretation. Springer.
  • Moravcsik, A., 2008. The European constitutional settlement. The World Economy, 31(1), pp.158-183.
  • Mount, F., 2011. The British constitution now: recovery or decline?. Random House.
  • Van Biezen, I., 2012. Constitutionalizing party democracy: The constitutive codification of political parties in post-war Europe. British Journal of Political Science, 42(1), pp.187-212.
  • Vibert, F. (2011). The challenge for those who wish to codify the UK’s constitution is to make it relevant to voters who may have more pressing concerns. | British Politics and Policy at LSE. [Online] Blogs.lse.ac.uk. Available at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/codifying-uk-constitution/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 2017].

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