‘The Will of the People’ has become a key refrain of government ministers since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. This chapter draws on the theoretical contributions of Carl Schmitt to suggest that the Brexit referendum was a manifestation of constituent power, the legitimacy of which undermines accepted norms of the UK’s unwritten constitution. Given the peculiarity of referendums within standard UK constitutional practice, the chapter focuses on the underappreciated power of rhetoric surrounding Brexit to justify executive actions contrary to established norms. Going on to examine the possibility of Parliament being stripped of its role as the final decision-maker within the UK’s constitutional setup, the chapter concludes by warning of the potential for new discourses around public sovereignty to make fundamental changes to the constitutional practice of the UK.
School of Law
Year of publication: 2019Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-10-22
“All rights reserved. This is a draft chapter. The final version is available in On Brexit: Law, justices and injustices [ISBN: 9781789903003] / edited by Tawhida Ahmed and Elaine Fahey, published in 2019, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, https://doi.org/10.4337/9781789903010. The material cannot be used for any other purpose without further permission of the publisher, and is for private use only."