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Is parliament really sovereign?

New legislation forces us to reckon with the central constitutional question

By Alex Dean  

Image: Pixabay

On 1st December, the government published a draft bill that—if passed—would repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. The political wisdom of repealing the act and the electoral consequences of doing so quickly generated discussion. But included in the draft was a provision of a different kind—one arguably more controversial than the rest. Clause 3 seeks to insulate the legislation from any legal challenge. It is an “ouster clause”—so called because it would potentially oust the jurisdiction of the courts. The intention is to make clear that the timing of elections is a matter for politicians: this is an area off-limits…

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