At the request of Parliament’s Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, King’s College London scholar Robert Blackburn spent four years drafting blueprints for a full-fledged constitution. The results were published last year in a parliamentary report titled “A New Magna Carta?”
Washington Post: Should Britain have a written constitution? In what ways could it be useful in settling the questions at the core of the U.K.’s existential dilemmas — devolved vs. centralized power, in Europe or out, four nations or one, etc.
Robert Blackburn: Britain should now move towards adopting a written constitution, which would have great benefits in providing a renewed sense of national identity, and settling the state of the Union across the four nations of the U.K. and the terms and limits of its partnership in Europe.
Within the country at large, a documentary constitution would enable ordinary people to know and see what are the principles, rules and institutions by which they are governed, to replace the present sprawling mass of common law rules in law reports, convoluted Acts of Parliament that are unreadable to most people, and unwritten conventions some of which are unclear even to politicians working at Westminster.
An initiative on enacting a written constitution would provide the opportunity for resolution of a number of constitutional problems, ones where despite cross-party agreement that something must be done, no outcome has been forthcoming, such as settling the rationale and democratic form for the parliamentary Second Chamber (House of Lords).
In May, Liverpool, Greater Manchester and four other combined authorities (see map) will elect a metro mayor for the first time. They are the poster children of the “devolution revolution” launched by the then chancellor, George Osborne, in 2015. The hope was that more joined-up decision-making at local level would boost regional economies and raise productivity. But many rural areas did not even submit a devolution proposal. Elsewhere local councillors rejected the notion. There are fears that, beyond the six deals concluded, it will be hard to do more. Lord Porter, head of the Local Government Association, said last month that he believes “devolution is dead.”
Some counties are restructuring anyway. Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire each plan to abolish their county, district and city councils and form a “unitary” one. Cornwall, Wiltshire and Shropshire have already done so. But district councils often align with parliamentary constituencies and, as district councillors act as ground troops in general elections, many MPs do not want unitaries.
The biggest problem is persuading the people in places like King’s Lynn to support change. “If you asked all my friends in the town,” says one lifelong resident out shopping with his wife, “I doubt any of them have even heard of devolution.”
The campaign to leave the European Union has won the referendum. It means the UK is now committed to withdrawing from the group of 28 countries, a process that has come to be known as Brexit. What does this mean for the UK and EU?
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Jeremy Corbyn is the new leader of the Labour party. What are his beliefs?
1. The deficit should be tackled – but not through spending cuts and not to an “arbitrary” deadline. Instead Corbyn would fund its reduction via higher taxes for the rich and a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion while tackling “corporate welfare” and tax breaks for companies.
2. Britain’s railways should be renationalised. He is also opposed to the HS2 rail scheme, saying it would turn northern cities into “dormitories for London businesses”
In a significant boost for the party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has suffered a series of setbacks over the EU and Trident, Labour’s national executive committee agreed a statement that paves the way for the rolling renationalisation of the rail network.
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The government has inadvertently provided further evidence that it is looking at privatising Channel 4, after an official was photographed entering Downing Street with a document setting out options for a sell-off.
After months of ministerial obfuscation on whether the sale of the state-owned, commercially funded broadcaster was being considered, the document reveals that proposals have already been drawn up in a bid to raise an estimated £1bn for Treasury coffers.