The Constitution in Review

Authors:

First Report from the United Kingdom Constitution Monitoring Group

The first report from the UK Constitution Monitoring Group (UKCMG) covers the six-month period from 1 January to 30 June 2021. It analyses legislation, decisions and events during the period against a set of 20 principles the Group has identified as central to the proper operation of the UK constitution. The report covers a range of constitutional categories, including elections, legislatures, executives, the rule of law, integrity in public life, and devolution and the Union.

The report notes that the government is set upon legislating over a range of substantial constitutional matters, including the calling of UK general elections, rules regarding political protest, and voter identification (appendix a to the report outlines the various aspects of the Johnson government’s programme of constitutional change).

The UKCMG highlights that this overall programme is notable for its scale, the speed with which it is being implemented, and its piecemeal character. Furthermore, to each of the government’s proposed reforms there are significant informed and principled objections, either in their substance, or in the way they are being being approached, or both. The Group argues this is not a model of good practice in constitutional change. The report also details a series of instances in which the government has disregarded the norms and conventions that are particularly important within the UK’s uncodified system, including in relation to the standards of propriety contained in the Ministerial Code, the competences of the devolved legislatures, and the international rule of law.

The UKCMG, which is a non-partisan, independent group formed in 2020, intends this report to be the first in a recurring series of six-monthly overviews of constitutional developments in the UK.

A list of the Group’s members can be found here, and a statement of the principles that form the basis of its work can be found here.

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.