Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Suella Braverman MP - Attorney General

"Parliament’s legitimacy is unrivalled and the reason why we must take back control, not just from the EU, but from the judiciary" - Suella Braverman 27 January 2020

The Prime Minister rehsuffled Ministerial appointments on Thursday 13 February. The Attorney General - Geoffrey Cox QC MP - left the government and was replaced by Suella Braverman MP.

Her appointment was far from welcome in some quarters. Secret Barrister tweeted - "If this rumour is true, it is up there with Truss as the greatest subservience-to-talent ratio in legal history." 

Let's take a closer look ...

Secretary of State for Justice / Lord Chancellor:

At this point, a brief digression is required

Friday, 14 February 2020

Cummings "furious" that the court prevented deportations

Simler LJ
Mr Dominic Cummings is a political strategist and chief special adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. His degree of "backstage" influence appears to be considerable.

It is reported that Cummings is "furious" that the Court of Appeal issued an order to prevent a deportation flight taking place - ITV News 11 February 2020. The article further reports that Cummings described the Court of Appeal's order is “a perfect symbol of the British state’s dysfunction.” He added that there must be “urgent action on the farce that judicial review has become.”

I have commented previously about the obvious risks

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill

Updated 19 February

The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill is now before Parliament.  The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that terrorist offenders are not automatically released before the end of their custodial term without agreement of the Parole Board.  

The provisions in the Bill change the release point for offenders who have committed a relevant terrorism offence and refer those offenders to the Parole Board at the two-thirds point of the sentence. The changes will apply

Saturday, 1 February 2020

10 years

14 January 2020 marked the 10th anniversary of this blog. 

With Brexit achieved on 31 January, the government will now engage in trade and other negotiations with the EU. Those are beyond the scope of this blog and will, I am sure, be covered adequately elsewhere - e.g. EU Law Analysis (Professor Steve Peers), Brexit Blog (Monckton Chambers), and UK Trade Policy Observatory (University of Sussex). Also, Department for International Trade.

Apart from the impact of Brexit, many other issues face the new government - see House of Commons Library Insights for the new Parliament.

Of particular concern

Reflections on Exit Day

After a membership lasting 47 years 30 days and 23 hours, the UK left the European Union at 2300 hrs GMT on 31 January 2020 - BBC News, The Telegraph, The Guardian.  It is well over three years since the 2019 referendum and it is not entirely clear that Brexit continues to be the wish of a majority of people in the UK - BBC 31 January - but the "first past the post" 2019 General Election resulted in a government with a strong majority and elected on a manifesto to "Get Brexit Done." The impact of first past the post on the election outcome is discussed at The Guardian 18 December 2019.

The Withdrawal Agreement is in place for the remainder of the year 2020. This will either smooth the way to a future negotiated relationship with the EU or, alternatively, present a no-deal (or minimal deal) situation from 2021.

Leaving the EU is a break from a body with a membership of 27 States and with a population of around 513 million people.  On 2018 figures, the EU has a gross domestic product (GDP) exceeding $18,000 billion and numerous

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Brexit ~ Signed and sealed

On Wednesday 29 January 2020, Sir Tim Barrow, the United Kingdom's Permanent Representative to the European Union presented to the European Council the Instrument of Ratification for the Withdrawal Agreement. This was the final step by which the UK indicated consent to be bound by the Agreement which is a treaty in international law.

The European Parliament gave its approval to the Withdrawal Agreement - 621 votes in favour, 49 against, 13 abstentions - Brexit deal approved by the European Parliament.

The European Council decided

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Longer time in custody for some prisoners

From 1 April 2020, a two-thirds rule will apply to certain prisoners - Government 22 January 2020 - Serious violent and sexual offenders to spend longer in prison

Orders have been approved by both Houses of Parliament to alter the law about the release of certain prisoners and to require them to serve longer in prison. The Orders are silent about rehabilitation of prisoners and the work to be done with them whilst they are serving their sentences.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

67 Years since Derek Bentley's execution

28 January 1953 - Wandsworth
" ... In our judgment the summing up in this case was such as to deny the appellant that fair trial which is the birthright of every British citizen' - R v Derek William Bentley (deceased) [1998] EWCA Crim 2516 - (Lord Bingham LCJ, Kennedy LJ and Collins J).

67 years ago today, at Wandsworth Prison, Derek Bentley was hanged for the murder, on 2 November 1952, of Police Constable Sidney Miles. My post of 26 January 2013 looked at the case and the posthumous appeal (quashing Bentley's conviction).

The morbid website

Friday, 24 January 2020

Brexit - the final throes

With just over a week remaining of the UK's EU membership, the Brexit process is entering its final throes. Brexit will have been achieved but little else given that the future (post-2020) relationship of the UK with the EU has yet to be negotiated.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 has been enacted. Royal Assent was given on 23 January. The Act gives legal effect to the Withdrawal Agreement within the domestic legal systems of the UK.  The Withdrawal Agreement itself has been signed.

The UK leaves the EU by operation

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

EU Withdrawal Bill ~ Legislative consent refused

National Assembly for Wales
The Scotland Act 1998 section 28(7) confirms that the Parliament of the United Kingdom retains power to make laws for Scotland. There is similar provision in the Government of Wales Act 2006 s.107(5) and in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 section 5(6)

An important constitutional question is when will Westminster exercise its power to legislate in relation to areas of devolved powers.

This question has assumed importance

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Scotland - a note on Johnson's rejection of Sturgeon's request

Scottish Parliament
Brexit, unwanted by Scotland, is one reason why the Scottish National Party (SNP) is riding high in terms of election results regardless of consideration of their actual track-record in government.  In the 2019 general election, the party obtained 48 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster and currently appears to be on course for an outright win in the Scottish Parliamentary election to be held in 2021.

Scotland’s First Minister

Monday, 13 January 2020

Northern Ireland January 2020

On Saturday 11 January, the Northern Ireland Assembly met at Stormont, Belfast. Apart from a brief (48 minutes) plenary sitting on 21 October 2019 (Video), the Assembly had not sat since 13 March 2017.

The Assembly was created by the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Elections were held on 25 June 1998 and the Assembly first sat on 1 July 1998 but existed in "shadow" form until 2 December 1999 when full powers were devolved. Since then the Assembly has operated intermittently and has been suspended on five occasions - (for details see Wikipedia).

The 2017 breakdown

Friday, 10 January 2020

Brexit ~ Events week beginning 6 January

The House of Commons returned after the Christmas / New Year recess and dealt with the Committee and Third Stages of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - (see previous post).

Attempts to amend the Bill failed - see Parliament 7 January - Brexit Bill enters Committee Stage.  On 9 January, the unamended Bill passed its Third Reading (330 votes to 231) and will next be considered by the House of Lords - see Parliament - Lords debates the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) BillConsideration of  amendments is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 22 January. Royal Assent will follow and the way will then be clear for the UK government to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement. The European Parliament is scheduled to deal with ratification on 29 January. Once the Agreement is ratified by both the UK and the EU it will become a treaty binding in international law.

The House of Lords EU Select Committee

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Queen's Speech ~ Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission

It is to be hoped that we are not about to witness the "topping out" ceremony in the construction of the elective dictatorship .....

The Queen's Speech included creation of a "Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission" (CDRC). Work will also be taken forward to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.  The Speech may be read via the No 10 Downing Street website and is accompanied by Briefing Notes (151 pages pdf). Both proposals were included in the Conservative Party's general election manifesto (previous post).  Unlike the proposal

Thursday, 2 January 2020

2020 - Criminal Justice - a Royal Commission?

The first nation to mark the New Year was the Republic of Kiribati located in the Pacific Ocean. The last place, also in the Pacific Ocean, was American Samoa.  The International Date Line divides the two places. 2020 will be the year of transition from full UK membership of the EU to whatever new arrangements are put in place for 2021 onwards.  Parliament will be a busy place as the government's programme, set out in the Queen's Speech, is rolled out.

The Speech may be read via the No 10 Downing Street website and is accompanied by Briefing Notes (151 pages pdf). This post looks briefly at the immediate task facing Parliament in January and then considers the proposal in the Queen's Speech to set up a Royal Commission related to criminal justice.

Parliament resumes sitting

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

UK and EU in 2020

New Year is a time for looking forward and also back. 2019 was the year when Parliament forced the previous (2017-19) government to seek an extension of EU membership - European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019.  A "no-deal" Brexit was therefore avoided on 31 October.  This showed that the UK's constitutional arrangements were capable of preventing action by the executive which would have had serious economic consequences.  Nonetheless, it was a difficult process and constitutional consequences have been signalled by the Conservative Party manifesto and, following their general election win, the Queen's Speech.

The 2019 general election resulted

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Christmas 2019

Best wishes to all readers for a truly Happy Christmas and New Year 2020

"So remember while December Brings the only Christmas Day, in the year let there be Christmas in the things you do and say"

Here is some reflective music for the Christmas period -

John Rutter - Christmas Lullaby and Candlelight Carol

Carols from King's College, Cambridge

A selection of carols played by musicians of the Salvation Army - music capturing the timeless essence of Christmas

In the Bleak Midwinter

Monday, 23 December 2019

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill


The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill will implement the Withdrawal Agreement under which the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020.  The Bill also gives legal effect to the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement and the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement.  See the government's policy paper and other explanatory material - EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill.

A bill with the same Title was presented to the previous Parliament but fell with the dissolution of that Parliament. The new Bill

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Queen's Speech 19 December 2019

State Opening 19 December 2019
Following the General Election held on 12 December, the Conservative government has put forward its plans in the Queen's Speech.

The Speech may be read via the No 10 Downing Street website and is accompanied by Briefing Notes (151 pages pdf).

Overall, the Speech sets out a considerable number of Bills which the government will seek to drive through Parliament.


Seven Bills are planned to address aspects of Brexit. The first is the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill to ensure that Brexit takes place as planned on 31 January 2020.   This Bill was

Valedictory for Lady Hale of Richmond

A valedictory ceremony was held on 18 December for Lady Hale of Richmond who is retiring from her role as President of the Supreme Court of the UK.  On any fair view, her legal career has been remarkable: 23 years at the University of Manchester, 9 years as a Law Commissioner, appointed to the High Court in 1994, the Court of Appeal in 1999 and to the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords in 2004. In 2009 she became one of the first justices of the Supreme Court and became its President in 2017.

The full ceremony may be viewed via the Supreme Court website.

Lady Hale remarked