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School of Law

Prof. Douglas-Scot weighs in on why Britain needs a proper constitution


Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Anniversary Chair in Law at Queen Mary University of London, argues that Britain needs a codified constitution in a debate published in Propect Magazine.

Prof. Douglas-Scott states that a codified constitution with some entrenched provisions would protect the rights of both individuals and nations of the United Kingdom against repeal by a small parliamentary majority. "Britain’s constitution no longer functions adequately today. Brexit has illustrated this very effectively. Should it be so easy to change a constitutional fundamental (EU membership) on the basis of an advisory referendum whose result commanded the support of less than 50 per cent of the franchise? A written constitution could contain provisions making its amendment subject to rigorous requirements," she said.

Professor Adam Tomkins MSP argues against, maintaining that a written constitution would do more harm than good. He said: "A good constitution balances and shares power. If power is concentrated or overly centralised, that is a sign of a weak constitution. Where power is disbursed effectively, that’s a good thing, from a constitutional perspective. Brexit has, for the most part, illustrated that our constitution is working well...Under our constitutional arrangements, Brexit cannot be delivered by one branch alone—the power (and responsibility) of delivering Brexit has been disbursed."

Read the full debate here.



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