Every country has a constitution, the UK might be rare in that our constitution is found in an uncodified collection of laws, books and traditions rather than a single written document, but it remains a constitution nonetheless. That constitution sets down the rules as to how our country will run itself, including the checks and balances which prevent our Government from becoming a dictatorship and protect our democratic rights as citizens.
Yesterday’s decision, by Britain’s most senior judges, made it clear the Government has gone beyond the limits of their powers under the UK Constitution, that in order to secure the prorogation of Parliament Boris Johnson lied to the Queen, and through her the British people.
On the one hand, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, Mr Johnson is a man who was fired from The Times for writing fraudulent articles and more famously promised £350m for the NHS which he has since had to accept does not exist, so why wouldn’t he lie to the Monarch in order to get what he wanted? However, it does raise a question: is this the most we can expect from our country’s Prime Minister?
I don’t claim to be perfect in any way, but any council officer or Labour member who has spent time with me will know the importance I place in politicians honouring their word, even to the point of delivering things people mistakenly thought we had promised in order to avoid adding to the cynicism in politics. The simple fact is a democracy cannot function when we cannot believe what the Government is telling us.
Maybe that’s all too optimistic, but just consider where we are now. Many of the powers delegated to the Prime Minister and the Government are technically still in the hands of the Queen, who acts on their advice. Yet, we now find ourselves in a position where her Supreme Court has told her she cannot trust the advice of her ministers. This is a situation which cannot last under the UK’s constitution. Something is going to have to change for the nation to survive.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council