The UK is a failed state. When the London School of Economics admits it, it must be true

Wreckers: First Theresa May, and now Boris Johnson, have used little-known devices to undermine the UK’s constitution – to the point where it no longer functions and the country is becoming a failed state.

Core democratic institutions have been “contaminated” by Tory politicians who have rigged the system, leaving the UK’s unwritten constitution in tatters, according to the LSE.


The control of power has become dominated by a bunch of executive tricks, and an uncodified ‘constitution’ no longer provides any predictable or worthwhile constraints on government action.

Theresa May’s government demonstrated not an elite responsiveness to MPs after 2017, but instead an increasingly frenzied exploitation of a host of parliamentary micro-institutions to bulldoze the May-Whitehall compromise Brexit deal through a reluctant Commons where government policies had no majority.

This was the curtain raiser for the Johnson government’s more grand-scale effort to unilaterally rework the UK constitution so as to give the PM ‘governance by decree’ powers.

“Governance by decree” powers would be similar to the Enabling Act that gave Adolf Hitler the ability to pass laws without the consent of the German Parliament, back in 1933.

The Johnson government (advised by Cummings who is openly contemptuous of parliamentary government) has now sculpted from the equally obscure prerogative powers surrounding the prorogation of Parliament a superficially bland but deeply toxic disabling of the Commons for 35 of the 61 days remaining to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

The timings involved are clearly tailored to frustrate any efforts of a fragmented opposition to concert an effective counter-action before September 10 or after 14 October, while yet bringing a Commons tied hand and foot back in time to witness but almost certainly unable to prevent a ‘no deal’ outcome on the 31st.

That the Queen and her constitutional advisors accepted this proposal at its face value is yet another nail in the coffin of the old constitution, with the monarch’s vestigial capacity even to ‘advise and warn’ now obliterated and shown up as a fiction, for the meanest of partisan exigencies.

The author of the piece, Patrick Dunleavy, clearly accepts that the prorogation of Parliament is intended to render it powerless to prevent Dictator Johnson’s plan.

Instead of great decisions resting on the clearly expressed will of Parliament, or the consultation of voters via a second referendum or a general election, a minority government and a PM that no one has elected are apparently set on achieving their will by converting to their purposes a swarm of micro-institutions of which almost all voters, and most constitutional ‘experts’ have little or no knowledge.

Johnson’s manoeuvre must cause a further delegitimization of government, risking a spectrum of severely adverse developments that might include significant civil disobedience, some public order turmoil, a weakening of ‘tax discipline’ (‘no taxation without representation’), and in short order the break-up of the UK.

Source: After the prorogation coup, what’s left of the British constitution? | British Politics and Policy at LSE

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  1. MerryMichaelW August 31, 2019 at 11:19 am - Reply

    We have never had a constitution. It was always flummery, smoke and mirrors. Only, for the first time, the Establishment are getting a taste of their own medicine.

  2. Zippi August 31, 2019 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    I’m sorry but if there hadn’t been a concerted effort to thwart the will of the electorate, as expressed by majority in the 2016 Referendum, we wouldn’t be in this mess. I can see no good way out of this, now. If Mr. Johnson carries on, like this, we are looking at civil unrest. If we do not leave the European Union, we are looking at civil unrest. Parliament has become an opposing shop, just voting down everything but agreeing nothing, except what to oppose next. Parliament has become effectively useless. All that proroguing has done is delay the inevitable opposition to the next thing. There has been collusion and scheming in all quarters. I see no clean hands. If those who were fearful of leaving without a deal were clever, they would have waited until Parliament was back in session, scrutinised the Prime Minister IN PARLIAMENT, allowed him to put forward his case, seen what, if any progress had been made but no, they decided to stop him, before he had really had the chance to do anything, based on their own fears and ambitions, however legitimate they may seem. This would have appeared reasonable and Mr. Johnson would then have been in a very tricky situation. There was still time to attempt to halt leaving without a deal but without all of this, which, as I see it, is a direct result of an attempt to bind the Prime Minister’s hands, in a negotiation, yet again. We saw what good that did last time.

    • Mike Sivier August 31, 2019 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      If Parliament did what you suggest – allowing Dictator Johnson to put forward his case, he would undoubtedly have used up all the debating time left available to do so. NO progress has been made, and it is clear that he does not intend to make any.

      Remember: The referendum result was for the UK to leave the European Union in a manner that was to be decided by PARLIAMENT after negotiations with the European Union. That was the decision. Dictator Johnson is denying democracy for Leavers and Remainers alike.

      You’ve said before that you blame all Parliamentarians for the current crisis – but you seem keen to give the Dictator a free pass on this. Why?

      • Zippi August 31, 2019 at 7:35 pm - Reply

        What I am saying is that by binding his hands, in the negotiation, nothing can happen. I have said, repeatedly, that the E.U. has to believe that we will walk. With this deal, that nobody likes and the E.U. has said it will not reopen, what does Parliament expect him to do? At least, with the threat of us leaving, there is a chance. Also, as I have said, multiple times, the Irish boarder issue is for BOTH sides to work out, if both sides are really insistent that they want a solution. Thus far, the E.U. is leaving it all up to us, so that every suggestion that we make, it can reject. If peace in Northern Ireland were really as important to the E.U. as is claimed, it would be working WITH us to find a solution.
        No, he doesn’t get a free pass. “I see no clean hands.” He should not have done what he did but I understand, to degree, why he might have done it.
        Remainers have made this far more difficult than it needed to have been and it was difficult to begin with. We should all have been on the same side, instead of blaming each other and trying to overturn decisions that we don’t like. Is that not what democracy is; having to accept decisions that you don’t like?
        Theresa May was forced back to the E.U. and she had a larger majority than does Mr. Johnson so, I think it entirely possible for the legislation to have been passed in time; remember, he most likely would not have prorogued Parliament, had the threat of trying to bind his hands, in the negotiation, been made so, there would have been ample time to test him.
        Make no mistake, I am no fan of Boris Johnson but I don’t see him being any worse that anybody else, right now; they are all as bad as each other, putting themselves and what they wan above everything else. I am fed up. My mother is fed up. My best friend has been fed up for so long that he didn’t even know about today, because he has been avoiding the news. People are fed up. They are all of them bad.

        • Mike Sivier September 1, 2019 at 11:16 am - Reply

          The threat of leaving without a deal does not give us a chance to get one.

          No, democracy is a system of government in which all eligible members of a society or group have a say in how it is governed. Any democratic decision may be overturned, for example if information comes to light which suggests a previous choice was unwise – as has certainly happened with Brexit. Other is a limitation on how soon this can happen, which in the UK stands at six month, unless I’m mistaken.

      • Zippi September 1, 2019 at 1:29 pm - Reply

        “No, democracy is a system of government in which all eligible members of a society or group have a say in how it is governed.” Yes but we can’t all get what we want, therefore we have to accept the decisions that we don’t like, in favour of the majority. That is how elections work, that is how Parliament works, on a system of votes in which the majority carries favour. We don’t yet know what the outcome will be.
        The lack of wisdom, it seems, comes from the planning, or lack thereof. Some might argue that the decision to take us into the E.E.C. was unwise but at least this has been tested, our leaving the European Union has not, therefore, it is all speculation. We can and will never know what leaving the European Union will be like unless and until we do.
        The threat of leaving makes movement possible, if it is a credible threat, which is why I say that the E.U. has to believe that we will walk. I have to negotiate every contract that I take, for every job that I do. Sometimes, I concede that this is the best offer that I am going to get and have to decide how much I want it; other times, I refuse to sell myself short and reject the offer and the job. Money, that I was told was not available, suddenly materialises. As I said, it all boils down to what each side wants from the other, how badly they want it and what they are prepared to concede, which is why so-called “red lines” exist. The E.U., rightly, is concerned only with the E.U. Why are we, instead of concerning ourselves with ourselves? What the E.U. gets from the deal should not be our concern, unless it is a concession on our part. The game of negotiating is to concede as little as possible and acquire as much as possible but you NEVER enter a negotiation with your opposite knowing that you will accept anything. That is not negotiation but capitulation.
        Again, I have said, we ought to be allowed to leave the E.U., be it now, or in 30 years time and in our entirety, every member state should, else what is the E.U.? We voted, by majority, to leave and everybody should be working to that end, not trying to keep us there because of fear. Boris Johnson does not have 2 years to negotiate and to do as Theresa May did, like Jeremy Corbyn, fighting on two fronts, is a recipe for certain failure. Will his apparent strategy work? We won’t know unless we give it a chance.

        • Mike Sivier September 1, 2019 at 3:39 pm - Reply

          You’ll have noticed that I stated it is possible to go back on a decision after six months, if information has come to light that casts doubt on its wisdom. Bear in mind that this has happened with regard to the EU referendum; the decision is tainted by the dishonesty of the campaigns.

          I am amazed at your willingness to put the UK through even potential harm, just to support a decision based on inaccurate claims.

          The threat of leaving without a deal (which is what I think you mean) does not make movement possible on the part of the EU because the EU has nothing to lose if it happens.

          When you are negotiating your remuneration for a job, it is from a position in which the potential employer wants you to do it. That is not the case with the UK and the EU. The EU isn’t particularly bothered about what the UK wants.

          Allow me to put it in a nutshell: Boris Johnson’s strategy will not work – and it will only alienate the people of the UK from him and his party.

      • Zippi September 1, 2019 at 7:17 pm - Reply

        The principal of negotiating is the same, it is all about what each side wants from the other and what each is willing to concede, as I said, before. Again, people who don’t like the decision will cast doubt on its wisdom but unless one can predict the future, there is absolutely no way of knowing, which is why the Oracle at Delphi is no longer in employment. I have also stated that the same things were said when we were taken into the E.E.C. I was reading, yesterday, a letter that was written by Tony Benn to that effect and I have read other writings that criticise that way that we were taken in, one such I quoted on this blog but did not see it published.
        There is always potential harm and many people are unhappy with the way that things are; should they put up with it, because other people are afraid of what MIGHT happen? Remember that we were told the worst case scenario, before we voted, in terms of what leaving could mean yet we still voted, by majority, to leave. Also, I did not base my decision, as you know, on inaccurate claims.
        The E.U. might not have anything to lose but allegedly, Germany stands to lose 100,000 jobs. This is not something that I want but it is a reason to talk. Are you suggesting that we just capitulate and give the E.U. everything that it wants, or to just stay (which is what the E.U. wants), because you want to? As I said, we should be allowed and able to leave, in our entirety, be it in 30 days time, or 30 years, should we so choose. If we cannot, what does that mean?
        You are right in saying that the E.U. is not bothered about what we want, so why are we concerning ourselves with what the E.U. wants? The E.U. has said that Theresa May’s deal is it. Parliament has voted it down thrice. If we outlaw no deal, what next? Parliament keeps telling us what it doesn’t want and that is getting us nowhere. It doesn’t want the deal but it doesn’t want no deal and doesn’t want Boris Johnson to negotiate one, it seems. We ask for an extension to do what? If I were in the E.U., I would tell the U.K. to do one; we are like a basket case that can’t make up its mind. I imagine that the E.U. is as fed up as many of us are becoming.

        • Mike Sivier September 3, 2019 at 11:49 am - Reply

          We have to be bothered about what the EU wants because the EU is the more powerful party in this negotiation. Sorry if you don’t like it but that’s the way it is.

          The EU said Theresa May’s deal was “it” because it was working within its own red lines – and those of Theresa May. Boris Johnson has not changed those red lines. But another prime minister may do so – and in doing so, change the EU’s red lines too. Jeremy Corbyn has had an alternative withdrawal agreement lined up for many months, and EU officials have indicated that they favour it.

          I think the best use of an extension would be to get a general election and a new Parliament. Then we might see movement.

      • Zippi September 1, 2019 at 9:39 pm - Reply

        By the way, I’m not advocating that we leave without a deal, that has never been my position but the deal will not pass and there has to be a change and how do you get that?
        Also, I don’t think that the Prime Minister will be successful in court, regarding the prorogation; I may be proved wrong but I think not. I am no legal expert and I certainly won’t confess to having a great deal of constitutional expertise but based on Gina Miller’s last case, I don’t fancy his chances.

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