Sunday, August 08, 2021

Two articles on judicial review in the UK.

Neal Ascherson reviews Linda Colley

This storm has been brewing for a long time. Take a late 20th-century example: during one of those recurring leak panics, somebody in Whitehall revealed to a journalist that a cabinet minister was lying. In the uproar that followed, a civil servant was challenged to confirm that she owed unconditional loyalty to her minister. But she demurred. ‘At the end of the day, I answer to the little lady at the end of the Mall.’ That reply confirmed that the United Kingdom is still essentially a monarchical structure. Not in terms of direct royal intervention, but as a polity in which power flows from the top down. The idiotic doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty – the late 17th-century transfer of absolutism from kings endowed with divine right to an elected assembly – excludes any firmly entrenched distribution of rights. Popular sovereignty in Britain is a metaphor, not an institution.

Francis FitzGibbon, The Supreme Court Retreats,

Common Sense: Conservative Thinking for a Post-Liberal Age was published in May by the self-styled Common Sense Group of around fifty Conservative MPs. Along with chapters on such themes as ‘What is Wokeism and How Can it be Defeated’, ‘The conservative case for Media Reform’ and ‘A Common Sense Model for Poverty’, are the reflections of two MPs on ‘The Judicial Activists Threatening Our Democracy’. The group has received favourable coverage from the Telegraph and the Express.

Anyone who thinks that British courts have become a hotbed of anti-government ‘judicial activism’ should ponder two judgments given by the UK Supreme Court on 30 July. The cases of Re A and BF (Eritrea) limit the scope of judicial review of administrative decisions at least as much the government’s own proposals in legislation currently before Parliament.

No comments: