David Green

Why Boris Johnson should pack the House of Lords

What should the next steps be in the battle between Parliament and the people?

First, Boris should appoint about 500 peers who are committed to leaving the EU. The House of Lords is dominated by Remainers and the appointment of additional peers should ensure that representation of Leavers and Remainers in the Lords is the same as in the 2016 referendum, namely a small majority in favour of leaving.

No doubt there will be the usual hyperbole about a coup and dictatorship, but the appointment of peers is morally justified because it will help to ensure that the Lords cannot defy the referendum result, when the people were acting through a constitutionally valid referendum authorised by Parliament itself.

In our system, as our greatest constitutional historian Dicey pointed out long ago, the political sovereign is the people and the legal sovereign is Parliament. MPs must act for the people, not for themselves. The narcissistic Tory turncoats appear to have no conception of either duty or trust. They are only in Parliament as representatives of the Conservative party, which stood on a clear manifesto promise to leave the EU.

Some Tory MPs like to quote Edmund Burke arguing that MPs owe the electors their judgement not their obedience. But far more relevant than his remarks to the voters of Bristol are his remarks in An Appeal From the New to the Old Whigs. He explained when he would recognise ‘the people’. Any mob or faction was inclined to call itself ‘the people’, but Burke argued that no such declaration was justified unless the people had agreed to create a political association which accepted majority decisions:

‘In a state of rude nature there is no such thing as a people… The idea of a people is the idea of a corporation.

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