A fish rots, it is said, from the head down. With claims of blackmail, bullying and racism, it seems so too does a political party

Britain is governed by a political – rather than a legal – constitution that relies heavily on conventions, and leaders with a sense of decency, to work. The dishonest and deceitful Mr Johnson is uniquely unsuited for the top job. A fish, it is said, rots from the head down. With claims of blackmail, bullying and racism, it seems so too does a political party.

The British constitution is said to be unwritten. This is only partly true. Written acts of parliament do regulate executive power. The European Communities Act 1972 took the UK into the EU’s predecessor (the European Economic Community) and allowed judges to disapply legislation in conflict with European law. However, parliament remained ultimately sovereign in the sense that it did, under Mr Johnson, repeal the act in leaving the EU.

The despot who deems themselves to be above the law was supposed to be done away with by a constitutional monarchy. But Mr Johnson shows the need to be protected from our elected representatives as much as our former royal rulers.

In Britain this danger is heightened by the power of a Commons majority, what Lord Hailsham described in 1976 as an “elective dictatorship”. His answer was more democracy, not less. The peer’s proposals for a federal Britain and an elected second chamber have much to commend them today. The Human Rights Act, currently menaced by Mr Johnson’s proposals to hollow it out, fulfils Lord Hailsham’s call for a bill of rights. Ultimately, the former Tory lord chancellor believed only a written constitution could balance parliamentary power.

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