A new article by Richard Ekins
Any good constitution is a framework for reasoned self-government, making it possible for citizens jointly to reason and act to secure their common good. The Westminster constitution makes provision for such reason and action by way of a scheme for representative, parliamentary democracy, the two pillars of which are the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty and the principle of responsible government. The United Kingdom (U.K.) entered into and is now exiting from the European Union (E.U.) in accordance with this scheme. Membership of the E.U. could formally be squared with—accommodated by—the Westminster constitution but there was a fundamental discordance between the European project and parliamentary democracy. The discordance increased over time and the U.K.’s choice to withdraw from the E.U. is a rational decision to restore robust self-government. This Article considers the constitutional dimensions of the U.K.’s fraught membership of, and now departure from, the E.U., contending that the U.K. reached and is implementing that decision in a way that was and is faithful to its constitutional order. Withdrawal from the E.U. has involved neither substitution of popular sovereignty for parliamentary sovereignty nor surrender to executive tyranny—and it was not the ill-judged intervention by the courts that saved the country from such. On the contrary, the process by which the U.K. has come to withdraw from the E.U. confirms the underlying strength and continuing promise of the U.K.’s parliamentary democracy.