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Insight paper

Constitutional entrenchment and parliamentary sovereignty

The most effective way of making constitutional principles harder to overturn is through a combination of legal and political mechanisms.

Alison L Young
Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament.

This guest paper argues that the most effective way of making constitutional principles harder to overturn is through a combination of legal and political mechanisms. Written by Alison L Young, the Sir David Williams Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge, the paper argues that, if parliament and the courts worked together, supplemented by the reinforcement of political entrenchment by the executive, this may provide an alternative means of entrenching constitutional principles.

It investigates whether there are other means through which a form of entrenchment could be provided through the enactment of ordinary legislation, either for a constitution document, or specific provisions deemed to be important enough as to require entrenchment. It looks first at challenges to our traditional understanding of parliamentary sovereignty, particularly as regards the accommodation of the primacy of EU law (during the UK’s membership of the EU) and of aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement post Brexit. 

The paper is part of the IfG and the Bennett Institute's review of the UK constitution

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