Brexit & The Constitution: SOVEREIGN PARLIAMENT trumped by SOVEREIGN PEOPLE: Prof. Vernon Bogdanor

February 23, 2020

At a seminar at my institution, King’s
College London, a recent seminar, the professor of European law,
Takis Tridimas, declared that this referendum in 2016 was the most significant
constitutional event in Britain since the Reformation of 1660.
And he said this because the referendum showed — or perhaps confirmed —
that on the issue of Europe, the sovereignty of the people
trumped the sovereignty of Parliament; and brexit is coming about
despite the fact that the vast majority of MPs supported remain, a majority of the cabinet including
the Prime Minister supported remain, and a large majority in the
House of Lords support remain. So brexit is coming about not because
government and Parliament want it, but because the people want it.
Government and Parliament feel themselves constrained to do
something they do not wish to do. And that’s a situation quite without
precedent in our long constitutional history. In a conflict between a supposedly
sovereign Parliament and a sovereign people, the sovereign people has triumphed. And so Europe has been
responsible for the introduction of a new principle
in the British constitution: the principle of
The Sovereignty of the People. The referendum had become
on the European issue, in effect a third
chamber of parliament, issuing legislative
instructions to the other two

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