Misguided innovations of a Supreme Court inflicting deep damage to our constitutional arrangements
Our national institutions deserve respect. Mindful of this, I welcome the Prime Minister’s acceptance – illustrated by his return to the House of Commons - of the Supreme Court’s judgement on the prorogation of Parliament.
Nevertheless, from the very genesis of the Supreme Court, crafted by Tony Blair - I expressed concern that, by extending judicial influence into the legislative sphere, we would compromise our constitution and ultimately end up replacing our time-honoured model of governance with one more akin to that of the USA. The United Kingdom’s uncodified constitution has always rested on the time-honoured principle of the ‘separation of powers’, whereas in the United States judges wield enormous authority, supplanting democratically elected politicians in reaching decisions - often out of tune with popular opinion - on matters of enormous consequence.
By extending the scope of judicial review to matters pertaining to the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, the Supreme Court has, for the first time, made a constitutional judgement. The long-term effect of this decision may be to limit, by constraining the Crown’s Ministers, the ability of those elected by the people, and accountable to them, to govern effectively.
Against this backdrop, it is alarming to hear the disingenuous rhetoric of the liberal commentariat, who justify piecemeal radical constitutional change by aggressively insisting that the Government is trying to prevent MPs from debating our withdrawal from the EU. This argument is almost beyond belief. After all, for three years MPs have dissected Brexit: voting against leaving without a deal; against holding a second referendum; and against revoking article 50. In short, we have debated endlessly every aspect of our withdrawal from the EU.
The doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty depends on popular consent, yet Parliament is now exercising power while refusing to accept responsibility. As the former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin once remarked, ‘power without responsibility – (has been) the prerogative of the harlot through the ages.’
The opposition parties so mistrust the people - fearing that the nation might once more return a verdict which they cannot tolerate - that they refuse to agree to a general election until a no deal Brexit is impossible. This elitist distain for working people is clear to see as - having clamoured for a general election and second referendum for years - the liberal establishment are now desperate to freeze out ordinary voters.
Perhaps some of the recent generations of MPs, schooled in an age of crass, crude social media, can’t grasp the contrasting roles of Government and Parliament. One is empowered by popular mandate to run the country, while the other’s role is not to govern, but to hold those who do to account.
I fear that the misguided innovations of a Supreme Court and the Fixed Term Parliament Act are inflicting deep damage to our constitutional arrangements. Our uncodified constitution depends on each element of the state working together effectively. However, ad hoc constitutional tinkering, which disregards or undervalues tradition and precedent, risks setting the branches of our government one against another, resulting in gridlock.
Returning each week from the blinkered London bourgouise to the clear-sighted common sense of my South Holland and Deepings constituents, I am more determined than ever to deliver the result of the referendum. For our United Kingdom’s escape from the clutches of the European Union is a once in a lifetime opportunity to restore Parliamentary sovereignty and return power to the people.
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