Boris Johnson urged to address ‘bygones’ in review of UK constitution and law

Brexiteer MP Sir Desmond Swayne called on Boris Johnson to address judicial 'bygones' in PMQs. Pictu

Brexiteer MP Sir Desmond Swayne called on Boris Johnson to address judicial 'bygones' in PMQs. Picture: Parliament TV - Credit: Parliament TV

Boris Johnson has been called on by a Brexiteer MP to prioritise 'bygones' in his government's promised review of the relationship between government, the constititon and the law.

In line with Conservative manifesto promises, Johnson told MPs that the role of the UK's legal system in the constitution is to be addressed to prevent courts being used to conduct "politics by other means".

But the prime minister was also egged on to "let bygones be top priority" by MP Sir Desmond Swayne, in an apparent call for retribution to the Supreme Court's 2019 finding that Johnson had acted unlawfully by proroguing parliament.

Johnson was responding to a PMQs question which asked: "What plans he has to reform the relationship between the legislature, executive and the judiciary."

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In his response, Johnson did not elaborate much further than reiterating his party's general election promise to create a constitutional democracy and rights commission "to examine the broader aspects of the constitution to develop proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates", he said, adding that it would require "careful consideration".

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He was then asked if he would prioritise "bygones" by Sir Desmond, who after the Supreme Court's decision against the government called for it to be abolished.

"I think it has well overstepped the mark," said the New Forest West MP at the time of the court's decision, later blogging that the decision amounted to a "coup".

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In response to Sir Desmond's question in the Commons, Johnson said: "Our independent courts and legal system are of course admired around the world.

"We will continue to ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not used to conduct politics by other means or to create needless delays."

The answer is an almost verbatim repeat of the phrasing on page 48 of the election manifesto, which alarmed commentators as a harbinger of possible attacks on the Human Rights Act and judicial powers.

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