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

Friday 13 December 2019

General Election 2019 ~ Conservative win

The 2019 General Election ended with a decisive majority for the Conservative Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.   The outcome was Conservatives 365, Labour 203, SNP 48, Liberal Democrat 11, Others 23 - Full results.  The election was held under the First Past the Post system (FPTP) and the voter turnout was 67.3%.  The impact of FPTP can be seen in that the Conservatives achieved 56% of the 650 seats on the basis of 43.6% of the votes cast.

The House of Commons Library has issued this analysis of the results and further detail may be seen at Democratic Audit where the impact of FPTP is considered.  A third interesting look at the results is by Robert Ford (Professor of Politics, Manchester University) at The Guardian 15 December 2019.

On any view of the politics this was a disastrous result for the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and also for the Liberal Democrats under the leadership of Jo Swinson who lost her own Scottish seat and resigned as party leader.  A Labour Party leadership contest is inevitable.

The Conservatives fought the election

Tuesday 10 December 2019

R v Sally Challen ~ Invisible chains

On 14 August 2010 Sally Challen killed her husband, Richard Challen, with 20 or more blows from a hammer.  In 2011, she was tried and convicted of his murder. The trial was in the Crown Court sitting at Guildford - His Honour Judge Critchlow and a jury.  A sentence of life imprisonment was imposed with a minimum term of 22 years - later reduced to 18 years. 

In February 2019,  the Court of Appeal heard Sally Challen's appeal which was on the basis of fresh evidence, namely the diagnosis by a consultant forensic psychiatrist (Dr Gwen Adshead), that

Monday 2 December 2019

Usman Khan and Extended sentences

Friday 29 November 2019, on London Bridge, Usman Khan (28) was shot dead by a Police Officer - BBC News 1 December 2019.  Khan was sentenced in 2013 for a Terrorism Offence but was released on licence from prison.

Khan killed two young people - Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones - who were both graduates of the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology . They were attending a conference at Fishmonger's Hall.  

Usman Khan's sentences:

The first sentence - 

On 9 February 2012, at the Crown Court at Woolwich,

Saturday 30 November 2019

Other parties and the Constitution ~ SNP, DUP, Plaid Cymru, Green Party

This post looks briefly at "constitutional proposals" in the manifestos of the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Plaid Cymu, and the Green Party. 

Much will depend on which of the larger parties eventually dominates in the House of Commons but the election may result in significant numbers of MPs representing these parties and, if that is the case, they may be in a position to have a marked impact on what the government is able to achieve.

Friday 29 November 2019

R v David Godfrey Duckenfield ~ Hillsborough

On 28 November 2019, in the Crown Court at Preston (Openshaw J and a jury), former Chief Superintendent David Godfrey Duckenfield was acquitted of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 people who died as a result of the events at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield on 15 April 1989.

Ch. Supt Duckenfield was the senior Police Officer - "Match Commander" - at Hillsborough Stadium on the day of the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.  The acquittal of Mr Duckenfield was by a jury of 10 and the verdict was a majority of 9 to 1. - Statement by the CPS 28 November 2019.

The law of gross negligence manslaughter is set out in detail on the CPS website.

A 96th victim

Thursday 28 November 2019

A codified constitution?


The United Kingdom's constitutional arrangements are essentially political in nature as opposed to being based on a legally binding formal (or codified) constitution. The political nature of the arrangements continues to be true even though there are a number of "constitutional" Acts of Parliament such as those creating devolved legislatures / government for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  One consequence of the political nature of the arrangements is that conventions play a considerable part by setting out the behaviour expected of individuals in particular situations. For example, it is by convention that Royal Assent is not withtheld for a bill which has passed through all its parliamentary stages.  Another example is that, by convention, Her Majesty appoints as Prime Minister the individual who appears most likely to be able to command a majority in the House of Commons - normally the leader of the political party which has gained the most seats at a general election.

Constitutional reform continues to be on the radar of the various political parties contesting the 2019 election but the proposals on offer fall short of making a commitment to a formal written, or codified, constitution for the UK even though recent events, particularly in connection with Brexit, have again raised the question of whether such a constitution would be desirable.

It is now 27 years since Lord Scarman called

Monday 25 November 2019

The Conservative Party and the constitution

On Sunday 24 November, the Conservative Party published its election manifesto - "Get Brexit Done."  There is also a Costings Document.

At first glance, the manifesto does not appear to say much about constitutional reform but, as I seek to show, first glances can be misleading.


Exit Day from the EU is currently set at 31 January 2020 and, under

Sunday 24 November 2019

The Labour Party and the Constitution

The Labour Party manifesto - "It's Time for Real Change" - is a lengthy 107 pages and contains a section on Constitutional Issues (pages 81-85).


The manifesto promises a legally binding "final say" referendum on Brexit and the referendum will have a Remain in the EU option. Labour rules out a "no deal" Brexit which would be harmful to jobs, rights, security and to our NHS." To that end, Labour would "rip up" the withdrawal agreement reached by Prime Minister Johnson and would seek to negotiate a new deal. They oppose

Liberal Democrats and the Constitution

The Liberal Democrat Party has published its manifesto for the 2019 Election. This post looks briefly at some of their key proposals and, in particular, those relating to constitutional reform.


At the forefront of their campaign is the plan to Stop Brexit. The manifesto states:

"The election of a Liberal Democrat majority government

Saturday 23 November 2019

Brexit Party and the Constitution

Reform of the constitution has not escaped the attention of politicians. This post takes a brief look at some of the proposals put forward by the Brexit Party.  The party is actually The Brexit Party Ltd . It was incorporated as a company in November 2018, registered by the Electoral Commission as a political party on 5 February 2019, and contested seats in the 2019 European Parliamentary Elections winning 29 seats - previous post. At the 12 December General Election the party is to contest 275 seats.

The party has published

Friday 22 November 2019

Whole life terms for child murder

HM Prison Wakefield
It is invariably a powerful headline when politicians promise to ensure that convicted murderers of children serve whole life terms.

That view was expressed recently by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor - Mr Robert Buckland QC MP - The Guardian 19 November - Tories pledge whole life term for premeditated murder of a child

The proposal:

On 19 November, the Conservative Party

Monday 18 November 2019

High Court ~ permission refused to review ITV over Johnson / Corbyn TV debate

The High Court (Davis LJ and Warby J) has refused permission for the Liberal Democrat Party and the Scottish National Party to judicially review the decision of ITV Broadcasting Ltd to hold a televised TV debate, on Tuesday 19 November, between just two political party leaders - Boris Johnson (Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party) and Jeremy Corbyn (Leader of the Labour Party.  Mr Corbyn was also Leader of the Opposition in the 2017-19 Parliament.

The court's decision

Saturday 16 November 2019

Withdrawal Agreement ~ The Joint Committee

The Key documents:

The New Withdrawal Agreement (541 pages pdf), New Political Declaration (31 pages pdf), the Declaration on Consent in Northern Ireland (8 pages pdf), and a Statement that Political Agreement has been reached (7 pages)  may be seen at - UK Government 19 October


The Withdrawal Agreement (WA) will,

Sunday 10 November 2019

Withdrawal Agreement ~ The Ireland / Northern Ireland Protocol

Addendum 12 January 2020 - House of Lords EU Select Committee considered the Northern Ireland Protocol

The Key documents:

The New Withdrawal Agreement (541 pages pdf), New Political Declaration (31 pages pdf), the Declaration on Consent in Northern Ireland (8 pages pdf), and a Statement that Political Agreement has been reached (7 pages)  may be seen at - UK Government 19 October


The Withdrawal Agreement contains Protocols on Ireland / Northern Ireland, the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus, and Gibraltar.  The protocols are an integral part of the withdrawal agreement - WA Art 182.

This post considers only

Friday 8 November 2019

Brexit - key links and analysis

Collection of links to Brexit materials.

Withdrawal Agreement / Political Declaration etc:

The New Withdrawal Agreement (541 pages pdf), New Political Declaration (31 pages pdf), the Declaration on Consent in Northern Ireland (8 pages pdf), and a Statement that Political Agreement has been reached (7 pages)  may be seen at - UK Government 19 October

House of Commons ~ Explanatory Material:

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Sir Lindsay Hoyle becomes 158th Speaker ~ Dissolution ~ Election timetable

Election of Speaker:

On 4 November 2019, by secret ballots of MPs, Sir Lindsay Hoyle was elected Speaker of the House of Commons - Parliament 4 November.  He is the 158th individual to occupy the office.

Mr Kenneth Clarke MP (Father of the House) presided over the election which took from 2.30 pm to about 8.20 pm.  The final ballot

Sunday 3 November 2019

Intelligence and Security Committee Report ~ Russia

On 17 October, Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) sent a report to the Prime Minister - see ISC 17 October Russia.

Downing Street has been accused of sitting on the report which examined allegations that Kremlin-sponsored activity distorted the result of the 2016 EU referendum.

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) was first established by the Intelligence Services Act 1994 to examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). 

Saturday 2 November 2019

A December General election ~ the Speaker ~ Dissolution of Parliament

It has been an interesting week! An extension of UK membership of the European Union (EU) was secured. The Prime Minister's motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 to hold an early general election failed to secure the required two-thirds majority in the House of Commons. A Bill was then introduced to legislate for a general election on 12 December 2019. The Bill received Royal Assent on 31 October and became the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 (EPGEA).  See this previous post.

December general elections

Thursday 31 October 2019

Grenfell Tower Inquiry ~ Phase 1 report

The fire and the building:

In the early hours of Wednesday 14 June 2017 a fire broke out in the kitchen of Flat 16 Grenfell Tower, a high-rise residential building in North Kensington, West London. Grenfell Tower was owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and managed by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (the TMO).


Tuesday 29 October 2019

Brexit ~ Flextension ~ General Election

Updated 30 October, 31 October and 2 November

On Monday 28 October, following discussions among the EU27, a "flextension" was granted to the UK's EU membership.  The EU Council decision is shown below - see Updates.  The Prime Minister sent a letter accepting the extension as he was required to do by the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019 s.3.

It is reported - e.g. at Politico.eu - EU agrees to January 31 Brexit extension - that the extension will last until 31 January 2020 but membership could end 1 December 2019 or 1 January 2020 if the UK comes to be in a position to ratify the withdrawal agreement - (previous post).  Also, the extension is conditional

Saturday 26 October 2019

Brief roundup ~ not Brexit

Aberfan Rescuers

Brexit dominates the news but here are some other news items.

Manchester Arena:

The Home Secretary announced the establishment of an inquiry, under the Inquiries Act 2005, to investigate deaths arising from the attack at Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017 - Parliament announcement.

The Inquiry will be chaired by retired High Court Judge - Sir John Saunders.

Sir John had already been nominated by the Lord Chief Justice to lead the investigation and inquests into the deaths at Manchester Arena - Manchester Arena Inquests - but the inquests will be adjourned once the inquiry is established.

Sir John has

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Withdrawal Agreement Bill in Limbo

On Tuesday 22 October, in the House of Commons, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill passed its Second Reading by 329 to 299.

The Second Reading vote was immediately followed by a Programme Motion vote. This went against the government's proposed, and far too short, timetable for consideration of the Bill during its committee stage. The vote was 308 in favour of the programme motion to 322 against.

The Prime Minister responded

Sunday 20 October 2019

Three letters ~ Brexit extension in the balance

Following the events in Parliament on Saturday 19 October, three letters were sent to the European Council President - BBC News 20 October.  One is the letter mandated by the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019 and is NOT signed by the Prime Minister.  A second letter, which is signed by the Prime Minister, explains that the Prime Minister does not actually want a delay beyond 31 October.  The third letter is from Sir Tim Barrow, the UK's Permanent Representative at the EU and informs the EU Council President that there is an attached letter sent as required by the terms of the 2019 Act.

It is not known exactly

Saturday 19 October 2019

Brexit - House of Commons Saturday 19 October 2019

People's Vote March 191019
On 19 October 2019, the House of Commons held its first Saturday sitting since 1982 (Falklands crisis). The purpose was to debate the new agreement reached with the European Union on Thursday 17 October and it was hoped by government that the House would vote in favour of the agreement - previous post 17 October.

The agreement had met with favourable reception from the Governor of the Bank of England (BBC News 19 October 2019).  The Director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), who repeatedly warned of the risks associated

Thursday 17 October 2019

EU ~ Negotiator Level agreement ~ NOT the done deal by a long way

Negotiations end with agreement:

On 17 October 2019, the European Commission published details of the outcome of talks at negotiator level aimed at reaching a Withdrawal Agreement under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union - see "Negotiating documents on Article 50 negotiations with the UK"

UK government - New Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and Political Declaration and note the 3 documents - Revised Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement, Revised Political Declaration, and Unilateral Declaration on Consent.

EU Commission Press Release 17 October 2019 - "The European Commission has today recommended the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the agreement reached at negotiator level on the Withdrawal Agreement, including a revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland, and approve a revised Political Declaration on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship. The Commission also recommends that the European Parliament give its consent to this agreement. This follows a series of intensive negotiations between the European Commission and UK negotiators over the past few days."

Later on 17 October,

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Extinction rebellion protests - a Section 14 Order

Updated 7 November 2019

Global climate change is an issue to be taken seriously. I readily admit to having been among the sceptics until I came across the serious and well-presented examination of the subject on the NASA website - Global Climate Change - Vital signs for our planet - where it is stated that scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.  It is claimed that - "The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia."

Extinction Rebellion

Saturday 12 October 2019

Solving controversial problems - the judicial and the political roles - two eminent views

Jonathan Sumption, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, delivered the 2019 Reith Lectures - earlier post of 25 June and see BBC's annual Reith Lectures

Lord Sumption followed up the lectures by publishing a very readable book - Trials of the State: Law and the Decline of Politics.

The book is based on the lectures, with additions and modifications provoked by the discussions which followed, and some expansion of points that could not be accommodated within the half-hour broadcast slots.

The subtitle of the book

Friday 11 October 2019

Sovereignty and Accountability - fundamental principles - a note

The recent Supreme Court decision in Miller v Prime Minister [2019] UKSC 41 (the prorogation case) invoked what the judgment refers to (para 41) as - "Two fundamental principles of our constitutional law .." First, the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty. Secondly, Parliamentary accountability.

The judgment of the majority in Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the EU [2017] UKSC 5 noted at para 40 that - "Unlike most countries, the United Kingdom

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Parliament - Judicial Independence - Prorogation

Judiciary- Independence:
On 8 October the House of Commons held a short debate on Judicial Independence - Hansard 8 October - Judiciary: Independence. Robert Neill MP asked the Lord Chancellor (Robert Buckland MP)

"Consistent with the Lord Chancellor’s speech at the opening of legal year, will he confirm that there is no place for political involvement in the appointment of judges and no question but that the rulings of the courts must be observed by all?"

Mr Buckland replied -

Monday 7 October 2019

Brexit and civil aviation ~ a note

Back in July 2018 this blog took a look at the possible impact of Brexit on the civil aviation sector. This post notes some developments which should, at least in the short term, minimise disruption to civil aviation in the event that Brexit takes place without an Article 50 withdrawal agreement.

This sector operates within a complex system of international regulation including regulation by European agencies such as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) created by the EU in 2002.

EU Regulation 2019/502:

The UK government has

Thursday 3 October 2019

In brief - proposal for new Ireland protocol - Prorogation

Updated 8 October

The British government has put a proposal to the EU Commission for a new protocol for Ireland / Northern Ireland - see UK Government Policy Paper 2 October 2019 where the letter from the Prime Minister to the President of the EU Commission can be seen as well as an Explanatory Note on the proposals.  A "legal text" has been sent to the Article 50 Taskforce.

The Prime Minister's statement in the House of Commons 3 October 2019. The Prime Minister said

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Brexit ~ Further court actions in Scotland

Court of Session
Updated 9 October

In early September it was announced that proceedings had been commenced in Scotland's Court of Session by petitioners Joanna Cherry QC MP, Jolyon Maugham QC and businessman Dale Vince (a millionaire businessman and political donor who founded the renewable electricity company Ecotricity) - The Guardian 12 September 2019.  The petitioners are asking the court to apply the Scots Law concept of "nobile officium" so as to enable the court to sign a letter to European leaders requesting a Brexit extension in the event Mr Johnson refuses to do so.

The nobile officium

Friday 27 September 2019

Case of Prorogation ~ Supreme Court judgment (2)

Links added at the end of the post .....

This is the second of two posts considering the Supreme Court's judgment in the prorogation appeals.  The first post looked at how the court held that the advice of the Prime Minister was justiciable and at the standard they set down for adjudicating upon lawfulness. This post considers the remainder of the judgment which addressed lawfulness itself and remedy.

Was the advice lawful?

The court pointed

Case of Prorogation ~ Supreme Court judgment (1)

My previous post (24 September) noted the Supreme Court's unanimous judgment in the two Prorogation appeals. The court held that the advice given to Her Majesty by the Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) to prorogue Parliament was justiciable and also unlawful.  The consequence of the advice being unlawful was that the Order in Council of 28 August 2019 was also unlawful, void and of no effect and should be quashed with the result that Parliament was not prorogued.

When this litigation commenced, there were

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Prorogation Unlawful ~ Supreme Court judgment

UKSC 24 September 2019
On Tuesday 24 September the Supreme Court of the UK handed down judgment in the Prorogation-related judicial reviews - previous post.

It is a judgment that will resonate around the common law world in which many Parliamentary systems are based on the Westminster-model.

The court held unanimously that the advice given to Her Majesty by the Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) to prorogue Parliament was justiciable and also unlawful.  The court held

Sunday 22 September 2019

Prorogation ~ Australia

The present prorogation of the UK Parliament is particularly controversial because of the imminence of Brexit and the fact that no withdrawal agreement has been reached. The present House of Commons is opposed to withdrawal from the EU without an agreement and has legislated to try to prevent that taking place without its consent - previous post.  The government, headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has stated that it prefers the UK to leave the EU with an agreement but if one cannot be secured then Brexit should still take place on 31 October.  The prorogation has been challenged in the courts and judgment of the Supreme Court is expected in the coming week - previous post.

The power to prorogue

Friday 20 September 2019

The prorogation litigation 17-19 September 2019

UKSC - September 2019
Update 23 September - Judgment will be handed down at 1030 on 24 September.

Prorogation of parliament was ordered on 28 August and took place on 9 September. The prorogation lasts until 14 October and was ordered by HM The Queen acting, via the Privy Council, on the "advice" of the Prime Minister.  It is widely thought that the true reason for this lengthy prorogation is to remove an awkward House of Commons from the political scene so that the government can get on unhindered with its Brexit policy.

The prorogation removes

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Prorogation of Parliament: Supreme Court to hear challenges

"The prorogation of Parliament is a prerogative act of the Crown. Just as Parliament can commence its deliberations only at the time appointed by the Queen, so it cannot continue them any longer than she pleases" - Erskine May at para 8.5.

That statement sets out the basic legal position relating to prorogation.  Prorogation is dealt with in greater detail by Graham Cowie in a House of Commons Library Briefing Paper - CBP8589. In practice, the prerogative power to prorogue parliament is exercisable

Friday 13 September 2019

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019

The Prime Minister said that "he would rather be dead in a ditch" than seek a further extension of UK membership of the EU and Michael Gove (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster), in an interview with Andrew Marr, refused to guarantee that government would obey legislation to block a no-deal Brexit - The Guardian 1 September 2019.

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No 2) Act 2019 is now law and imposes certain duties relating to Brexit on Ministers including duties on the Prime Minister.

That Ministers are under an obligation

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Prorogation and the courts

England and Wales:

The High Court (Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division) - Lord Burnett CJ, Sir Terence Etherton MR and Dame Victoria Sharp (President QBD) held that the decision of the Prime Minister to advise Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue Parliament is not justiciable in Her Majesty’s courts-  - Judiciary - Gina Miller v Prime Minister and others [2019] EWHC 2381 (QB). 


In Scotland's Court of Session (Outer House) - Lord Doherty - reached

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Extraordinary times ~ Parliament 9 September 2019

Extraordinary times:

It is wholly inadequate to say that the political events of the last few days have been "utterly extraordinary." Even during the many turmoils since the end of World War 2 it is impossible to find a situation in which there has been this degree of breakdown in the trust required between government and parliament. Political actors have to be trusted to observe the laws and conventions underpinning the UK's uncodified and, at times, ill-defined constitutional arrangements. In particular, trust is crucial so that government respects the role of parliament and vice versa.


Suspicion was confirmed by

Thursday 5 September 2019

4 September ~ What happened

Updated 6 September:

Proceedings in the House of Commons on 4 September 2019 included the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 6) Bill (the No.6 Bill) through all its House of Commons stages. The Bill then proceeded to the House of Lords.  The Commons also held a vote, under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, for an early general election.


The Prorogation Order requires the prorogation of Parliament

Wednesday 4 September 2019

3 September 2019 ~ What happened: minus the rhetoric!

Court of Session
On 3 September 2019, the House of Commons returned after its summer recess which commenced 25 July. The day also saw the substantive hearing in Scotland's Court of Session of a judicial review relating to the prorogation of Parliament.

House of Commons:

An application to hold an emergency debate was made by Sir Oliver Letwin MP who said - " ...in the light of the Government’s decision to prorogue Parliament next week it has become an urgent matter for Parliament, and particularly this House, to discuss whether it can accept a no-deal exit. I therefore ask you to grant an urgent debate under Standing Order No. 24."  The Speaker

Monday 2 September 2019

Notable cases (7) ~ M v Home Office

M v Home Office [1993] UKHL 5, [1993] 3 WLR 433, [1994] 1 AC 377 was decided by the House of Lords in 1993.  The appeal gave rise to issues of constitutional importance.  The case concerned the breach of an injunction requiring the return to the UK of M who had been removed to Zaire. A finding of contempt was made against the Home Secretary, then Mr Kenneth Baker MP, but only in his official capacity and not his personal capacity. For the first time, a Minister of the Crown was held in contempt of court.

The House of Lords (Lords Keith, Templeman, Griffiths, Browne-Wilkinson, Woolf) rejected the proposition that the courts did not have power to enforce the law against a Minister of the Crown. Applications for judicial review were not 'proceedings against the Crown' for the purposes of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947: accordingly injunctive relief against a Minister or officer of the Crown is available in judicial review.

The most detailed speech

Thursday 29 August 2019

Prorogation announced

Updated 4 September - additional link

Tuesday 27 August - A meeting of MPs took place on Tuesday (27 August) at Church House, Westminster and put forward a cross-party plan to use "whatever mechanism possible" to stop a no-deal Brexit being forced through - ITV News 27 August 2019.  The MPs agreed "on the urgency to act together to find practical ways to prevent no-deal ... "including the possibility of passing legislation and a vote of no confidence." The legislative route to stopping no-deal was preferred over the alternative but securing parliamentary time for such legislation is difficult given that the government normally has control over the agenda of the House of Commons.

The Church House meeting