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,