Lucas: Time for a written constitution

“We need a democracy we can all believe in and this means we have to create it ourselves”. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling that Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament was unlawful, Caroline Lucas MP has called on the prime minister to resign and states that it is time for the UK to introduce a written constitution to protect democracy.

Caroline Lucas protests
Caroline Lucas protests
Caroline Lucas

This was a momentous decision by the Supreme Court. Not only did it rule that the prime minister’s action in proroguing Parliament was unlawful, it did so unanimously, with all 11 judges agreeing.

This is a huge indictment of Boris Johnson and his ignore-the-rules approach to government. He should now resign.

But this judgement is not just about the abuse of executive power by an out of control prime minister, his adviser Dominic Cummings and their hedge fund backers. It also means time has been called on our 350-year-old uncodified, unwritten constitution.

The crowds outside the Supreme Court and the huge media interest shows that constitutions are not dry and arcane matters for lawyers and academics. At the highest level they are about who our democracy belongs to and the direction in which we are headed as a country. 

The prime minister had told the judges that “the courts have no jurisdiction to enforce political conventions… because those matters are determined within the political world”. 

In other words, he claimed he can do what he likes. He can close down Parliament when he likes and he and his advisors are above the law.

The Supreme Court disagreed. Quite rightly, they ruled that his decision to close down Parliament is null and void.

But there are already calls for a ‘Brexit constitution’ that will put the judges in their place by subjecting them to political control, as in Trump’s America, undermining our fundamental human rights and rule of law.

In order to defend the principles of our democracy we must resist this. Parliament is scheduled to immediately resume but this in itself will not mend our broken system.

It is time for a written constitution so that our rights and the rule of law are codified and protected.

We need a democracy we can all believe in and this means we have to create it ourselves, with a democratic process based on citizens-led assemblies and conventions. We cannot trust the political class to “give” us this democracy. We have to take control.

It is the only way to move on and heal our divided country. This is how we begin to transform Britain.