Implementation Impact Constitutional Change


It is trite knowledge that the United Kingdom legal system is based on unwritten constitution, which combines the common law, the statutes, the general application of law, and the rules of equity. The norm is not documented in any piece of paper hence the whole legal order gives the people the highest mandate to dictate their destiny; an opportunity which they exercise by electing their leaders to represent their interest through the social contract. Verily, the electorates also make their voices known by way of referendum concerning some sensitive issues that their direct participation is needed. The paper looks into the manner in which the referendums are carried out and whether they are by any means good to effect any constitutional change as guided by the unique circumstances. The proponents of referendum allude to a combination of pragmatic approach and principle, whereby the relationship between these two shifts over time as the legal instruments have gradually developed.


The referendums hitherto fit within the United Kingdom’s democracy as the ultimate power belongs to the people. Liberal democracy, whereby the conflicting ideas of people and interests of the electorates in issues of politics, has become advanced in the United Kingdom and one cannot blindly ignore its importance. Some sensitive issues cannot be left onto the hands of the elected representatives to decide on behalf of the people. Some of the issues touch directly on the issues of sovereignty of the United Kingdom, which the people value so much thus, they jealously guard any action that tends to interfere with it in any way. The inherent prestige and bravado for their country play a very thematic discussion that their contribution must be sought. This does not mean that the fascist ideas are the driving factors for the love of territorial and jurisdictional integrity.

Referendum further fits within the fulcrum of United Kingdom’s democracy in the sense that some fundamental matters that relate to the legal order of the nation must be upheld at all cost. As abovementioned, the legal system of United Kingdom is premised on the unwritten constitutionalism. The full import of this translates to the vigilance that the people are likely to have whenever they sense any tilt within sensitive legal areas that are likely to have an impact in their normal life. The candid discussions that influence the livelihood of the citizens are discussed in social, economic, and political gatherings by not only the political class but even the ordinary and private citizens. Precisely, constitutional matters such as national identity, is a serious concern that may not wholly be left to parliamentarians as the views of the majority may not get manifested during the debates in parliament.

As explained above, the importance of constitutional change by way of referendum cannot be over-emphasized. The direct democracy as exercised through referendum however is not the most ideal way of dealing with the entire constitutional issues specifically and the legal order in general. Additionally self-determination (the ability of the citizens to have their desire effected), governmental power structures (bureaucracy), and voting rules form the core of constitutional issues that drive the people participate in during referendum. Inasmuch as the United Kingdom does not have a written constitution, the legal order in form of jurisprudence is entrenched by ordinary legislation. However, when the people want to utilize their direct democratic right, they opt for plebiscite to make decision on very important matters that may be viewed as in consistent with there are those crucial matters that the people cannot trust their representatives with. It is common to most Britons that the politicians are overwhelmed with vested interest hence their role in some matters that go at the core of their livelihood must be limited at all costs.

The rationale behind the averment is that such a direct democracy may impose the ideas of some cliques who form the majority in the government bureaucracy and law thus not taking care of the minority. Aristotle hinted at the possibility of tyranny if direct democracy is applied in all themes and questions touching on the all matters in the society. Going by the manner in which the referendum question is framed, the winner takes it all without any compromise or discussion. In the case of Brexit, tyranny rule evidently manifests itself thanks to the sides that the political bigwigs have influenced their followers.

People tend to be manipulated to adopt plebiscites in the name of direct participation but in reality, the political elite and its surrogates want to have a sway in all their mischievous desires. Totalitarianism easily chips in thus leading to manipulation by the tyrants who want to maintain their continued hostage of people. The pro-establishment have devised various methods in which they manipulate the referendum via rigged election. The chief target groups are the pressure groups and the organized crimes that operate within the government bureaucracy. Being that the United Kingdom is the pioneer of liberal democracy, it has to tread with caution and responsibility to prevent the political decay that it has long run away from.

Criticisms that can be made about the EU Referendum are closely related to the misuse of liberal democracy that the paper has previously dwelt on. In essence, the proposal to exit membership of European Union is an open violation of the existence of Legislature as it is where the voice of the citizens is felt. Before the desire to move away from the Union overtakes peoples’ thoughts and emotion, there should be a revisit as to why the British government decided to join hands her European counterparts to form a strong political and economic block. In fact, a referendum to join the European Community was held in 1975 whereby it was voted in affirmation. Britain is the cradle of modern civilization, in terms of constitutional and governance advancement. The Kingdom boasts as a serious participant in international and political affairs. The statement made by Kenneth Rogoff best summarizes the criticism of the referendum this way, “the real lunacy of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union was not that British leaders dared to ask their populace to weigh the benefits of membership against the immigration pressures it presents. Rather, it was the absurdly low bar for exit, requiring only a simple majority.”

Some scholars opine that a sole plebiscite ought not to be a license to fundamentally change the constitutional order. They aver that there are some key decisions that the parliamentarians have transacted on behalf of the electorates that have passed the clean bill of health. The driving force to this school holds that Parliament has wide jurisdiction to order the crown to withdraw its membership from the European Union. However, they maintain that if there is insistence on conducting a referendum. It should be required in two fold.

A different trajectory must however also look at the reasons why the advocates for Brexit zealously support the move. Going by the statistics, the majority of those who affirmed the Brexit were the low-income earners. According to them, ignoring their pleas would be unfair to them. I line with the principal of democratic space that that the United Kingdom has consistently advocated within its geopolitics and the international arena, it would be foolhardy if they felt treated and regarded as second-class citizens. In reality, any defiance to comply with their desire and decision would appear as manifest contempt regarding their thoughts.

Due to the grave consequences that come with Brexit, a proposal for a second referendum is in the offing by the pundits. Lammy insists that leadership is concerned with choices made in the course of being at the helm. According to him, as a politician, he needs to stand up for his constituents. He confesses that three quarters of his people voted so that they remain in the Union. In fact, he expressly holds says that the first crop of people to feel the devastating effects of the exit are his fellow constituents who entrusted him with their votes to represent their affairs in parliament. He emphasizes that there are threats of economic meltdown, which will begin from his constituency and stretch to the whole of the crown. The fear of sliding into poverty due to limited trade and economic slumber make the opponents of Brexit demand for another election.

The opponents of Brexit maintain that the plebiscite was simply an exercise of advisory hence not binding in line with the Electoral reform legislated in 2011. This landmark legislation imposed on the government that legal obligation to enact laws. There has been contrast observed in the Members of parliament whereby some number ranging to 500 made a declaration in support of the referendum yet they have the authority to solve the legal issue in the house. The negligence on their part must be scrutinized since they have the duty of care as far as the welfare of the gnarl public is concerned. The second vote is urgently needed to correct the grave mistakes that people made when they voted to exit the union. The people can now perceive the real dangers that come with the Brexit.

Improvement of the referendum process may be improved by ensuring that the government funds both sides of the political divide involved in the referendum campaigns. This is because there are those who felt shortchanged due to the lack of sufficient resources to reach out to their constituents to support their advances. Additionally, referendums that co-opt different constitutional issues should be permitted. This has the effect on reducing the unnecessary expenses that should have been deployed elsewhere in the public policy.

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It would also be noble if the citizens initiate referendum by way of petition. The idea of petition has the effect of reducing the emotions that the politicians exhibit while appealing to their supporters. Furthermore, the information should reach the intended audience in a neutral manner. It is an effort that has been carried out in previous referendum though it should be strengthened to a higher level. The abovementioned discussion makes it necessary for a second referendum to be so that the final verdict may be promulgated, either that the Kingdom exits the union or not. The plebiscite must be done in a sober environment devoid of propaganda.


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