Boris Johnson’s parliament shutdown is unconstitutional

By | August 28, 2019

Shami Chakrabarti writes:

One of the gravest dangers to any society is “outrage fatigue”. The symptom of this condition is when so many people have been so angry for so long that terrible abuses of power now seem almost normal. Over a decade since the financial crash, after nine years of crippling public spending and tax cuts, and three years on from the bitterly fought EU referendum, poor leadership leaves our country in a state of polarised peril. This is frightening for people all over the United Kingdom, but it poses the biggest threat to the most vulnerable – and now to democracy itself.

The idea of shutting down parliament (no need to dress it up with the fancy language of prorogation) so that a hard-right, minority government can facilitate a “crash-out” Brexit on 31 October, was first suggested during the Conservative leadership campaign by Dominic Raab in June. Boris Johnson has refused to rule it out ever since. So last weekend’s reports of leaked emails between No 10 and the attorney general were hardly a bolt from the blue.

Yet, in the words of that fictional antithesis to Donald Trump, President Bartlet of The West Wing: “Is it possible to be astonished and, at the same time, not surprised?” When Jeremy Corbyn commissioned my formal advice on the subject, I felt able to produce it with complete confidence (for reasons I am about to explain). However, it was still a sobering task for someone who has always believed that in Britain at least, the overwhelming majority of MPs, however divided on almost everything else, share a respect for our representative democracy and the House of Commons in which they have the privilege to serve. [Continue reading…]

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