Citizens, not subjects
The basics about Unlock Democracy's campaign for a written constitution.
What is a ‘constitution’ and what is the UK’s constitution?
A constitution is a set of basic rules that set out how a country is governed. Every country has one, usually written down in a single document, like in the USA.
In the UK only some of these basic rules are written down and even these aren’t in one place. Many of the rules are unwritten and exist only as understandings between different parts of government.
Westminster has unaccountable power
Our current system gives Parliament sovereignty over the people, not the other way round. If Brexit means building a new country, our current constitution leaves the government free to decide what kind of country we’re going to be, and whose interests it serves.
Without proper rules saying what the government can and can’t do gives it huge unaccountable power. And as long as politics is infected by big money, governments are free to use their enormous power to further the interest of the richest.
Right now, government can make huge changes without the consent of the public or even MPs. For example, post-Brexit trade deals could affect our rights at work, the food we eat and who runs our health service, but the government doesn’t even need to consult MPs properly before signing a treaty that opens the door to privatising the NHS.
We can have a government that gives everyone a say
If we can convince a majority of MPs to vote for a written constitution, we will start a process of deciding together as a country how we want to be governed, instead of an unaccountable government deciding how to govern us.