New paper / The Supreme Court’s Judgment in Miller: In Search of Constitutional Principle

I recently finished work on a paper that will be published in the July 2017 issue of the Cambridge Law Journal. Entitled ‘The Supreme Court’s Judgment in Miller: In Search of Constitutional Principle’, the paper analyses the decision in R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [2017] UKSC 5. As is well-known, the Supreme Court, in that case, held that the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union could not be initiated by the Government using prerogative power; rather, the Brexit process could be begun only with Parliament’s legislative blessing. As is equally well-known, that blessing was conferred by Parliament via the European … Continue reading New paper / The Supreme Court’s Judgment in Miller: In Search of Constitutional Principle

House of Lords Constitution Committee Reports on ‘English Votes for English Laws’

By Mark Elliott and Stephen Tierney The House of Lords Constitution Committee (‘the Committee’) today issues its report on ‘English Votes for English Laws’ (‘EVEL’). The report examines the new arrangements for the passage of legislation introduced by the Government in July 2015 and agreed by the House of Commons twelve months ago. The Committee was asked to review the constitutional implications of these procedures by the then Leader of the House of Commons, Chris Grayling MP, and to report in the Autumn of 2016, its conclusions feeding into the Government’s own review of the new system. In this post … Continue reading House of Lords Constitution Committee Reports on ‘English Votes for English Laws’

House of Lords Constitution Committee reports on Wales Bill

By Mark Elliott and Stephen Tierney The House of Lords Constitution Committee today publishes its report on the Wales Bill. The history of the Bill is a somewhat chequered one, a Draft Bill published in October 2015 having been subjected to excoriating criticism by (among others) the Assembly’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The centrepiece of the Bill is intended to be the shift from the ‘conferred powers’ model of devolution that presently operates in Wales to a ‘reserved powers’ model akin to that which is found in Scotland. However, the Constitution Committee concludes that ‘the current implementation of the … Continue reading House of Lords Constitution Committee reports on Wales Bill

1,000 words / Devolution

The current system of devolution in the UK was introduced by the Blair Government in the late 1990s. It involved the creation of new legislative and executive institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the conferral upon them of law-making and administrative powers. A key purpose of devolution is to enable parts of the country that possess distinct political and cultural identities to remain part of the Union without subjugating those individual identities.The hypothesis upon which devolution was built is that it can strengthen the Union by equipping it to accommodate diversity, a flexible structure being stronger than a brittle … Continue reading 1,000 words / Devolution

Brexit | Can Scotland block Brexit?

On The Sunday Politics Scotland today, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, raised the prospect of Scotland placing an obstacle in the path of Brexit, saying: “If the Scottish parliament is judging this on the basis of what’s right for Scotland, then the option of saying we’re not going to vote for something that’s against Scotland’s interests, that’s got to be on the table. You’re not going to vote for something that is not in Scotland’s interests.” So, can Scotland legally block Brexit? The answer is “no”; but before the reasons are explained, some background is necessary. Devolution notwithstanding, the … Continue reading Brexit | Can Scotland block Brexit?

The House of Lords Constitution Committee’s Report on The Union and Devolution

By Mark Elliott and Stephen Tierney The House of Lords Constitution Committee today publishes its report on The Union and Devolution. This post draws attention to some of its main findings. The Constitution Committee’s report on The Union and Devolution, published today, declares the Union to be “under threat”, and recommends that the United Kingdom Government “needs fundamentally to reassess how it approaches issues relating to devolution.” The report is the culmination of a major inquiry which began taking evidence in October last year. The Committee heard from 66 witnesses including academics, think tanks, the chairs of Commissions on devolution, … Continue reading The House of Lords Constitution Committee’s Report on The Union and Devolution

Theresa May’s case for withdrawal from the ECHR: Politically astute, legally dubious, constitutionally naïve

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has argued in a speech staking out her position on Brexit that, although she is in favour of the UK’s remaining in the European Union, it should withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The purpose of this post is not to address the arguments for or against withdrawal. Rather, it engages with the quality of the Home Secretary’s underlying arguments. It concludes that however politically savvy May’s position might be, it does not withstand analysis. In particular, it turns upon legally specious distinctions between the EU and ECHR legal regimes, and is … Continue reading Theresa May’s case for withdrawal from the ECHR: Politically astute, legally dubious, constitutionally naïve