Without a written constitution Britain can only understand itself through the prism of the royal family and this will become more and more apparent if there is a no deal Brexit.
For better or worse I am sure long after Brexit there will be many a written appraisals both false and otherwise as to why it happened in the first place.
The whole process is now boiling down to what value or power does a vote have in a country with a constitutional monarchy and a parliament in a system of first past the post which suppresses the true majority vote.
Therefore the term “the government” can be used to refer to all politicians who have been appointed by the monarch.
That means it is a country governed by a king or a queen who accepts the advice of a parliamentary and democracy which has been elected by the people.
All members of the government belong to the same political party. They are collective responsibility. (That is, every member of the government, however junior, shares the responsibility for every policy made by the government.)
The Queen appears to have a great deal of power, in reality, she has very little.
The Prime Minister, on the other hand, appears not to have much power but in reality has a very great deal indeed.
But this is not quite true.
The position of a British Prime Minister (PM) is in direct contrast to that of the monarch.
For the evidence of written law only, the Queen has almost absolute power, and it all seems very undemocratic.
Every autumn, at the state opening of Parliament, Elizabeth II, who became Queen in 1952, makes a speech. In it, she says what “my government” intends to do in the coming year. And indeed, it is her government – not the people’s.
As far as the law is concerned, she can choose anybody she likes to run the government for her.
If she gets fed up with her ministers, she can just dismiss them they are all “servants of the Crown”.
Furthermore, nothing the parliament has decided can become law until she has agreed to it.
The Queen also has a special relationship with the Prime Minister, retaining the right to appoint and also meeting with him or her on a regular basis.
There are often mentioned three roles of the monarch.
First, the monarch is the personal embodiment of the government of the country. This means that people can be as critical as they like about the real government, and can argue that it should be thrown out, without being accused of being unpatriotic.
Second, it is argued that the monarch could act as a final check on a government that was becoming dictatorial.
Third, the monarch has to play a very practical role as being a figurehead and representing the country.
The Prime Minister will talk about “requesting” a dissolution of Parliament when he or she wants to hold an election, but it would be normally impossible for the monarch to refuse this “request”.
So, in reality, the Queen cannot actually stop the government from going ahead with any of its politics.
The sovereign reigns but does not rule.
Britain is almost alone among modern states in that it does not have ‘a written constitution’.
There are rules, regulations, principles and procedures for the running of the country – but there is no formal document that could be called the Constitution of the United Kingdom or which can be appealed to as the highest law of the land.
However, because Social media power is moving more and more to the people these rules are now changing.
Keeping the above in mind a popular claim by many supporters of the Leave campaign is that the EU is run by ‘unelected bureaucrats’.
Part of the misunderstanding about the power of the Commission perhaps stems from a comparison with the British system of government.
How much truth is there behind that claim?
This claim mainly refers to the EU Commission: the EU’s executive body.
It is true that the Commission President and the individual Commissioners are not directly elected by the peoples of Europe. So, in that sense, we cannot “throw the scoundrels out”.
It is also true that under the provisions of the EU treaty, the Commission has the sole right to propose EU legislation, which, if passed, is then binding on all the EU member states and the citizens of these member states.
The truth is that the Commission can only propose EU laws in areas where the UK government and the House of Commons have allowed it to do so.
Unlike the British government, which commands a majority in the House of Commons, the Commission does not command an in-built majority in the EU Council or the European Parliament, and so has to build a coalition issue-by-issue. This puts the Commission in a much weaker position in the EU system than the British government in the UK system.
Finally, once invested, the Commission as a whole can be removed by a two-thirds ‘censure vote’ in the European Parliament.
Also, ‘proposing’ is not the same as ‘deciding’.
A Commission proposal only becomes law if it is approved by both a qualified majority in the EU Council (unanimity in many sensitive areas) and a simple majority in the European Parliament.
The problem in Britain is that the Commission President does not feel very democratic. But in many ways, the way the Commission is now chosen is similar to the way the UK government is formed.
Neither the British Prime Minister nor the British cabinet is ‘directly elected’.
Formally, in House of Commons elections, they do not vote on the choice for the Prime Minister, but rather vote for individual MPs from different parties.
Then, by convention, the Queen chooses the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons to form a government.
This is rather like the European Council choosing the candidate of the political group with the most seats in the European Parliament to become the Commission President.
Then, after the Prime Minister is chosen, he or she is free to choose his or her cabinet ministers. There are no hearings of individual ministerial nominees before committees of the House of Commons, and there is no formal investiture vote in the government as a whole. From this perspective, the Commissioners and the Commission are more scrutinised and more accountable than British cabinet ministers.
None of the main British parties are in the EPP (the Conservatives left the EPP in 2009), and so British voters were not able to vote for Juncker (although they could vote against him). But, we can hardly blame the EU for the Conservatives leaving the EPP or for our media failing to cover the Commission President election campaign!
There was also very little media coverage in the UK of the campaigns between the various candidates for the Commission President, so few British people understand how the process worked (unlike in some other member states).
So, it is easy to claim that the EU is run by ‘unelected bureaucrats’, but the reality is quite a long way from that. Although, having said that, I would be one of the first to acknowledge that the EU does not feel as democratic as it could or should be.
This is perhaps more to do with the stage of development of the EU than because of the procedures that are now in place for choosing and removing the Commission, which are far more ‘democratic’ than they were 5 or 10 years ago.
So at the risk of repeating the previous post on the subject of Brexit here is in my view the main contributions.
Most if not all reasons for Brexit can be put down to social changes over the past 50 years.
The loss of empire and of world power status, a weaker sense of collective British identity (devolution as both cause and consequence), an increase in immigration, first from the newer Commonwealth countries and now from new EU states, and the growth of multiculturalism and changes in the balance of the population ( the decline of manual work, the increase in the number of women in the workforce and rising numbers of the elderly) and the Forth Industrial technological revolution exposing the have and have nots.
Resulting in Society becoming more individualistic split between the south-east versus the rest divide in terms of economic wealth and opportunity.
London has gained greatly from the globalising economy, while the north remains heavily dependent on public spending on jobs and economic activity.
Can the mess be resolved without Constitutional changes, without a Backstop, without the Union breaking up, without a general election, without a peoples vote?
It would be foolish for the government to marginalise groups and to pursue a top-down style of policy-making when faced with the truly huge task of deciding what to do about the massive amount of EU legislation that will remain in place on day one of Brexit, albeit as British law.
Interest groups, above all, know best which EU laws are working well, which are not, and which are no longer needed.
Thus, Brexit should usher in a return to governance, a return to the European Union to engage in reforms that are needed.
To honour the Good Friday agreement an international treaty.
There are no large trading blocks lining up to do trade deals.
There is no such thing as a Sovereign nation in the Forth industrial revolution.
Just think of what else you could have done with all that time and money, including the £4bn you are spending to guard against the entirely avoidable and self-inflicted calamity of a no-deal crash-out from the EU.
Surely you can already see that Brexit is doing the opposite from being Great Britain, to turning your gaze ever more inward, shrinking your horizons – and yourselves.
It remains disturbing to see the media held captive by Brexit.
If news bulletins, front pages and social media feeds were your guides, you’d think climate change had gone away, quietly resolved while we were obsessing over the Northern Ireland backstop. Not so. It barely made a ripple, but last week came word that the oceans are warming at a rate some 40% faster than previously understood.
How many episodes of this show are there going to be before you realize the capabilities of your decrepit political system?
In reality, it is of course very different. if no action is taken to change the timing of withdrawal under Article 50, Britain will go its Brexit way with no deal.
God save the Queen.
All human comments appreciated. All abuse and like clicks chucked in the bin.