Ewan Smith: What Would Happen if the Government Unlawfully Issued an Article 50 Notification without Parliamentary Approval?

“It’s helpful to recall the legal debate that greeted Britain’s entry into the EEC. In Blackburn v. Attorney General, the claimant sought to challenge the ECA itself, along with Britain’s ratification of the EEC Treaty. Faced with the suggestion that this was an irreversible act, Lord Denning considered the constitutional procedure for withdrawal:
“If Her Majesty’s Ministers sign this treaty and Parliament enacts provisions to implement it, I do not envisage that Parliament would afterwards go back on it and try to withdraw from it. But, if Parliament should do so, then I say we will consider that event when it happens.” (Emphasis added)
This is an authoritative statement of the proper constitutional relationship between the government and Parliament when a treaty and a statute intersect. When the government signs a treaty, and Parliament incorporates it by statute, it is for Parliament to “go back on it and try to withdraw from it.” That should already be manifest to British lawyers; it is important that it we make it manifest in Europe.”
Ewan Smith, Lecturer, Hertford College, Oxford

UK Constitutional Law Association

Ewan SmithIn “Pulling the Article 50 ‘Trigger’: Parliament’s Indispensable Role” Nick Barber, Jeff King and Tom Hickman argued that it is Parliament, and not the government, who get to decide whether to trigger an notification under Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union.  I agree with them.

Barber, King and Hickman base the argument on general grounds, drawing on the Case of Proclamations. However, it is important to consider the specialised rules that apply to the government’s power to conclude treaties. It is also important to think about the consequences of unconstitutional action, both as a matter of domestic and international law. It is not obvious that a British court could prevent the government from issuing a notification, nor is it obvious that an unconstitutional notification would be ineffective in international law. This post will explain these complications; then explain why an English court can issue a…

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Sionaidh Douglas-Scott: Brexit, the Referendum and the UK Parliament: Some Questions about Sovereignty

“Bruce Ackerman, writing in 2011, suggested in the London Review of Books that major constitutional issues should be put to the voters twice before enacted into law, and that this would help the thoughtfulness of voters’ decisions. Ackerman also warned of the dangers of referenda systems: ‘a poorly designed system could serve as a platform for pandering to the worst instincts of the public, as countless demagogues have shown since Napoleon first demonstrated the abusive potential of referendums in the aftermath of the French Revolution. At present, Britain is drifting down this path.’”

UK Constitutional Law Association

Sionaidh Douglas-ScottSo, we have the result of the Referendum, and a majority of voters have voted to leave the EU. A mantra of Leave campaigners seems to have been the desire to ‘take back control’. There has been much talk of sovereignty, although less clarity on what it actually means. However, at its most basic, there are at least three notions of sovereignty that are relevant in the context of Brexit, and they are often confused. The first is parliamentary sovereignty, which is said to have particular resonance in the UK because, due to the vagaries of the uncodified UK Constitution, the Westminster Parliament has been recognised as a body with unlimited legislative power. Yet the parliamentary sovereignty of a representative democracy may seem to be at odds with popular sovereignty as exercised in a referendum. Popular sovereignty also has other implications, such as in Scotland, where an indigenous Scottish tradition…

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Franz C. Mayer: Two Years Are Two Tears Are Two Years? When Does the Brexit Countdown Actually Begin?

Cool heads, steady hands, the Spiritual manages the material everywhere whatever the appearance. Hu hu.

UK Constitutional Law Association

Franz MayerSummer 2026. Germany has decided to leave the European Union. A few thousand votes were sufficient on the basis of a special referendum under Article 20(2) of the German constitution. The Scottish President of the European Commission immediately demands that Germany submit within 48 hours a notification according to Artcile 50 TEU to initiate the process of withdrawal from the Union. Meanwhile, constitutional discussions begin in Germany. Bavaria refuses to accept the vote, presses the ‘Bundesrat’ (second chamber) for a counter-decision, and threatens to withdraw from the Federal Republic of Germany, invoking an inverse interpretation of Article 23 of the German constitution in its pre-reunification version. It is unclear, whether a formal decision of the ‘Bundestag’ is necessary at all and, if so, with what kind of majority. Federal President Claudia Roth announces that she will not sign any statute of withdrawal. Peter Gauweiler brings a lawsuit to the German…

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Paradigms are Made for Shifting

There is One Existent

Creative by Nature

“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels~Albert Einstein, N.Y. Times, 1946

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Over the course of the last hundred years, Western scientists have given us a deeper view of the Universe, of Life & Nature as a creative and unified self-organizing process.Unfortunately, most modern societies are still operating with outdated ideas and assumptions, that do not reflect this new paradigm.

Albert Einstein understood this, as have many others. In order to survive as a species, it is essential that we shift paradigms, developing ways of thinking (and behaving) that are more aligned with how human life and Nature’s systems actually work.

Golden Ratio MonaEvery “thing” that exists in our Universe is a dynamic complex system, interdependently connected to other systems, constantly moving and changing, less a static “thing” than an evolving and transforming creative process.

We see galaxies and hurricanes spinning, continents moving…

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