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To What Extent Has The Location Of Sovereignty In The Uk Changes In Recent Years?

1099 words - 5 pages

To what extent has the location of sovereignty in the UK changes in recent years?

Sovereignty is having ultimate authority over a territory, with the absolute right to govern. It is a principle of absolute and unlimited power by which a state can act in any way that it wishes without its actions being vetoed by a superior body. This means that a political body has unrestricted powers and that no other authority can control how it manages its internal and external affairs. There are 3 types of sovereignty. Popular sovereignty, where the people of the territory are given a certain amount of power, this is active in elections in which the people decide who will govern us or in referenda. ...view middle of the document...

This means that even if Britain opposes a policy we will have to accept it. An example of this was the “factortame case” in 1991, in which European law took precedence over the 1988 merchant shipping act, consequently we were told that British courts must implement European law over British law. In short, we have pooled our sovereignty with 26 other EU countries so it is no longer focused on just the Westminster Parliament. This naturally affects parliament’s sovereignty since it makes clear that European law is now greater than parliamentary statute law and that, given a choice, British courts would have to stick to European law. Westminster does though, significantly, still remain sovereign over key areas that define a nation state such as defence, foreign policy, tax and immigration where member states still retain the veto (block). The passing of the Lisbon treaty in 2009 has, pooled sovereignty even more.

It is argued that devolution of power to the Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish assemblies saw a lot of power drift away from Parliament. This is complicated because in theory, parliament retains the right to retrieve any power devolved however, devolution is an evolutionary process and it would seem increasingly impractical that Westminster really could consider dissolving the Scottish Parliament when it has now been in operation for ten years and has a direct mandate from the voters to govern them. If the Scots then went onto vote for independence, in the referendum that Alex Salmond proposed, then Westminster’s claims to sovereignty would be further undermined, while the Welsh assembly is soon going to be offered similar powers to those of the Scottish Parliament yet further undermining Westminster’s sovereign powers. In short one could argue that, particularly in the case of Scotland, the constituent members of the UK are in the process of achieving de facto sovereignty.

The Human Rights Act there have been numerous occasions when the judges have used the Act to protect our civil liberties. The highest court of appeal for issues concerning human rights has thus become the European court of human rights in Strasbourg. If a law passed by...

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