The United Kingdom: constitutional pragmatism and the adoption of the referendum
Britain, almost uniquely amongst mature democracies, does not have a written constitution. Constitutional practice is uncodified and evolves by precedent and convention. Formally, absolute sovereignty remains with the Crown in parliament and although this constitutional myth remains intact, it is wearing increasingly thin in the era of an enlarged European Union. It follows therefore that referendums can have no formal status under the British constitution, but even so their usage is not proscribed, and their occasional usage in the future appears probable.
KeywordsEuropean Economic Community Labour Party Maastricht Treaty Issue Position Constitutional Reform
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Balsom, Denis, 1983. “Public opinion and Welsh devolution”, pp. 197–215 in David Foulkes, J. Barry Jones and Rick Wilford (eds), The Welsh Veto: the Wales Act 1978 and the referendum. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.Google Scholar
- Bochel, John, David Denver and Allan MacCartney, 1981. The Referendum Experience: Scotland 1979. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press.Google Scholar
- Bogdanor, Vernon, 1981. The People and the Party System: the referendum and electoral reform in British politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Burke, Edmund, 1902. “Speech to the electors of Bristol”, in Works, Volume I. London: Bohn’s Standard Library.Google Scholar
- Butler, David, 1978. “United Kingdom”, pp. 211–19 in David Butler and Austin Ranney (eds), Referendums: a comparative study of practice and theory. Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.Google Scholar
- Butler, David and Uwe Kitzinger, 1976. The 1975 Referendum. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Butler, David and Austin Ranney (eds), 1994. Referendums around the World: the growing use of direct democracy. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Foulkes, David, J. Barry Jones and Rick Wilford (eds), 1983. The Welsh Veto: the Wales Act 1978 and the referendum. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.Google Scholar
- King, Anthony, 1977. Britain Says Yes: the 1975 referendum on the Common Market. Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.Google Scholar
- Lawrence, R. J. and Sydney Elliott, 1975. The Northern Ireland Border Poll 1973, Cmnd. 5875. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
- Luke, Paul and David Johnson, 1976. “Devolution by referendum”, Parliamentary Affairs 29:3, pp. 332–9.Google Scholar
- Ranney, Austin (ed.), 1981. The Referendum Device. Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.Google Scholar