Pros And Cons Of Codifying The British Constitution

1859 Words8 Pages
The current makeup of the British constitution is an uncodified, flexible set of rules that are created by Parliament. The core argument that lies beneath the question of whether Britain’s constitution should be codified is whether flexibility is preferred over security. With current contemporary challenges such as Britain’s impending ‘Brexit’ from the European Union and the devolution that follows, the principle of codifying the British constitution would enable it to better meet those challenges. However, the execution of codifying the British constitution could potentially create greater challenges for Britain in an increasingly unpredictable time.

In current times of instability, both nationally and internationally, codification of the
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F. F. Ridley argues that Britain does not have a true constitution as it does not meet the four essential characteristics of (i) ‘it establishes, or constitutes, the system of government and thus it is not part of it’; (ii) ‘it involves an authority outside and above the order it establishes’; (iii) ‘it is a form of law superior to other laws’ and (iv) ‘it is entrenched’. In contrast, the Select Committee on the Constitution argue that ‘the British Constitution, contrary to popular description, is not ‘unwritten’ – a good part of it is written – but it is uncodified’. The conflicting arguments of constitutional writers about whether the British constitution can even be labelled a constitution is reflective of how laypeople regard it. The common man is unlikely to know or understand the elements of the British constitution due to its uncodified nature, whereas in the United States of America the constitutional rights are a commonly known fact and people often refer to their amendment rights, largely due to the clear format demonstrating the fundamental laws and rights. As we withdraw from the European Union and large amounts of legislation is being repealed, replaced or introduced, knowing and understanding the key fundamental rules of Britain is crucial for its citizens and codification would solve…show more content…
As N. W. Barber argues, would the newly codified convention be a ‘formalised restatement of existing constitutional rules’, or would some parts of the constitution be reformed in the process? It is unknown what the process of codification of the British constitution would truly entail and so it is near-impossible to be able to predict the length of time it would take or the procedures that would need to be put into place. The uncertainty around how codification would take place, in combination with the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union, would amount to a large-scale political confusion and it is unlikely either of the tasks would be completed within adequate timing. If Britain’s constitution is not codified within the time limits of Britain’s exit from the European Union, then it would be regarded as a missed opportunity with large potential consequences. Also, the constitutional challenge that ‘Brexit’ is proving to be is one of the most suitable catalysts for constitutional change in recent times, to leave the constitution uncodified in this time could be regarded as a mistake on behalf of the government in the time when a secure, codified constitution is needed the
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