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