The coming constitutional crisis

It will take a while for the implications of the Conservative victory to come to fruition, but some things are already clear.    The new government is set to introduce three policies which have major  implications  for the constitution of the United Kingdom:

  • withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights
  • a referendum to leave the European Union, and
  • a determination to withdraw the right to vote in Parliament from one of the constituent nations of the United Kingdom (and as a special bonus, denying the third largest party in the commons the power to vote against the government).

Any one of these policies has the potential to go horribly wrong.  Taking all three together looks like a sort of military adventure, where every step is designed to ensure pandemonium in case one of the other explosions fails to go off.

5 comments

    • airtinhame

      I would suggest that MPs have little power in Westminster in the chamber but a group of the size of the SNP group with the authority of the Scottish electorate behind it and supported by the Scottish government wields influence greater than HM loyal opposition.

      • Paul Spicker

        It all depends on how current undertakings are played out. It’s far from clear how EVEL would work, or if it could – would the Budget be segmented into rules for different provinces? The Conservatives will be able simply to vote down all objections anyway; in those circumstances, barring the SNP from the right to vote (e.g. on tax rates or HS2) seem superfluous. If there was a genuine federal reform, and the foundation of an English Grand Committee, the relative power of Scottish MPs relating to Scotland could increase.

  1. airtinhame

    A nicely argued case but flawed in that the withdrawal from ECHR is not necessarily related to the other two propositions and the arguments against withdrawal may be diminished by association with them.

    The referendum of withdrawal from the EU is a promise made by a weak leader in uncertain times. He could still redeem himself by negotiating a better settlement and needs to be encouraged so to do. He could also be defeated on the floor of the house as his party are not wholly in favour of a referendum. Tactically, he needs to be pushed into an early decision before his government settles.The threat of a referendum is depressing markets, delaying European recovery and wasting everyone’s energy.

    English votes for English laws is an entirely reasonable proposition but requires a new constitutional settlement to make it acceptable. The immediate debate we need is about what kind of settlement is acceptable to Scotland. We must not allow our future to be decided by an unelected body like the Smith Commission.

    • Paul Spicker

      I may not have explained myself clearly enough. Of course, the ECHR has nothing to do with the other points – and the those points have nothing to do with each other either,. My point was that the Government is setting itself up to have three major constitutional battles, on different fronts, all at once. The human rights conflict will be with the courts and the international community, The EU referendum will bring them into conflict with the EU and with business (and especially with the finance industry). The issues of devolution imply conflict with Scotland and possibly Wales.

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