1. Exquisite Tweets from @ProfMarkElliott

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    This is a truly extraordinary article, in which John Finnis advocates proroguing Parliament until after 12 April, in order to 'terminate parliamentary debate' on Brexit.

    A short thread. /1

    Lord Ashcroft @
    An interesting read...

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    ProfMarkElliott

    Mark Elliott

    Finnis goes on to argue that this would be 'wholly legitimate as a matter of constitutional principle' and would be 'in the interests of good government' and the 'responsible conduct of our international relations'. /2

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    ProfMarkElliott

    Mark Elliott

    Finnis seeks to justify this argument by reference to the referendum, to which he appears to attach such paramount importance as to warrant the deliberate termination of parliamentary debate. /3

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    ProfMarkElliott

    Mark Elliott

    This argument is advanced while, at the same time, raging against the 'constitutional monstrosity' that, in Finnis's view, the indicative votes procedure amounts to. In contrast, the intentional sidelining of Parliament by the Executive is presented as wholly legitimate. /4

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    ProfMarkElliott

    Mark Elliott

    In fact, the indicative votes procedure is far from a 'monstrosity'. It is certainly unusual, but there is nothing improper about Parliament determining that its (own) normal procedures should be departed from in these highly abnormal circumstances. /5

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    ProfMarkElliott

    Mark Elliott

    Finnis goes on to argue (echoing a view others have recently expressed) that in these circumstances it would be 'proper and appropriate' if the Queen, on ministerial advice, were to override Parliament by withholding assent to a Bill enacted against the Government's wishes. /6

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    ProfMarkElliott

    Mark Elliott

    Both of these arguments - concerning prorogation and Royal Assent - imply a view of the UK's system of government that skewed in favour of the Executive to a quite extraordinary degree. /7

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    ProfMarkElliott

    Mark Elliott

    The fundamental error underpinning both arguments is that they confuse what is normal, and hence what is abnormal, in empirical terms with what is legitimate and illegitimate in terms of constitutional principle. /8

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    ProfMarkElliott

    Mark Elliott

    That the Executive is usually able to exercise a high degree of control over Parliament is true. But it does not follow that it is illegitimate for Parliament to assert itself when circumstances and parliamentary arithmetic permit. /9

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    ProfMarkElliott

    Mark Elliott

    The suggestions that Ministers should override Parliament by advising against Royal Assent or terminate debate via prorogation are politically naïve and flawed in principle. Indeed, it is those suggestions that are the true 'constitutional monstrosities'. /ends

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    ProfMarkElliott

    Mark Elliott