Tories accused of wanting to suppress power of courts if Boris Johnson wins next election

PUBLISHED: 13:14 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:53 05 December 2019

The Labour peer and barrister Charlie Falconer has accused the Tories of attempting to re-write the constitution into a political framework that would benefit parties, instead of a legal guideline. Photo: BBC

The Labour peer and barrister Charlie Falconer has accused the Tories of attempting to re-write the constitution into a political framework that would benefit parties, instead of a legal guideline. Photo: BBC

Archant

The Tories of been accused of attempting to turn the constitution into a political framework that would benefit their party if they won the election.

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The Labour peer and barrister Charlie Falconer was speaking to Emily Maitlis on the BBC's Newsnight when he made reference to a point made in the Conservative Party's manifesto, which reads: "We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays."

The point in the manifesto seems to be a response to the government's prorogation of parliament, which they were taken to court over.

Falconer was asked by Maitlis whether this manifesto policy shows "a shifting away from a legal framework to a political framework".

Falconer agreed, saying: "It is and I've read that - and I'd spotted it some time before you asked, it's an absolute echo of what the government's response was to the prorogation case, where the Supreme Court said the prime minister had acted unlawfully in proroguing for a long period of time.

"They said it was conducting politics by another means, so I read that bit of the manifesto as meaning there's not going to be any more prorogation cases, so if Mr Johnson becomes prime minister again, he won't be restrained by the courts from acting unlawfully."

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The Tory candidate Tobias Ellwood rejected the claims, instead suggesting it's "something to be put for the justice secretary, but I'd be hesitant to go down the route [of prorogation] again. We saw what happened with the Supreme Court.

"Its verdict was very, very clear indeed. I think it's a distraction from what we need to focus on now."

When pressed by Maitlis further on whether he thought it was an abuse to try and change the constitution along those lines, Ellwood said: "I think that the interpretation of what you're reading there is something that you'd have to have to put to the justice secretary. I didn;t write that part of or any part of the manifesto."

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