Constitutional Breakdown

We ask whether the UK constitution is cracking up - and if so, where's the breakpoint going to come? Is Brexit at the heart of the current crisis or does it go deeper than that? What's the role of the Supreme Court? And the Queen? Could the Bank of England play a part? And where does Scotland fit in? We try to piece it all together with Helen Thompson, Chris Bickerton and Kenneth Armstrong.


Talking Points:


The British constitution is under big strain right now, and not just because of Brexit.

  • The British constitution is a political one, and If there is a crisis it is a crisis of politics. Fundamentally, this is about representation.
  • What happens if the next Conservative leader doesn’t command the confidence of Parliament?


Right now, the constitution is facing multiple sources of strain including the Fixed Term Parliament Act, Brexit, and problems within the Union.

  • To survive, the constitution has to adapt to all of these things simultaneously.
  • Would things be better if the constitution were codified?


If elections have been played down as a political tie breaker because of the Fixed Term Parliament Act, is there space for something else?

  • The rise of the Brexit party could create a real complication.
  • At a certain point, it becomes difficult to disentangle the party dynamics and constitutional issues.


Where are the pressure points in Scottish politics now?

  • The most immediate one was the other week when the Scottish government published the referendum bill. It doesn’t provide for a second referendum.
  • This is a way of trying to corral politics toward a second referendum without pushing a button immediately.
  • Scotland is itself a vexed constitutional question.


Mentioned in this Episode:


Further Learning:


And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking

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