Brexit and our unprotected constitution


Professor Vernon Bogdanor presents his new Constitution Society pamphlet, entitled ‘Brexit and our unprotected constitution’, examining the constitutional issues raised for our British constitution after Brexit.

In this report, Professor Bogdanor assesses the potential impact of Brexit upon the ‘unwritten’ United Kingdom constitution. He notes that it is rare if not unprecedented for a democracy to exit from a major international human
rights regime; and that no country has hitherto moved from a protected to an unprotected system. Such a process, he concludes, raises profound constitutional questions. Brexit will leave a gap in our British constitution in terms of the protection of human rights. This gap could well be filled by the judges. If that happens, Brexit will increase the danger of a clash between the judges and Parliament.

In addition, Brexit might prove to be a constitutional moment for Britain, since it may strengthen the case for Britain following nearly every other democracy in developing a codified constitution which provides for the judicial protection of human rights. Our entry into the European Union transformed the British constitution. Brexit, far from returning us to the status quo ante, could transform it even more.

This publication presents the personal views of the author and not those of The Constitution Society, which publishes it as a contribution to debate on this important subject.