Active, Passive, or Dead?

Martin Loughlin

  • BuyThe Sleeping Sovereign: The Invention of Modern Democracy by Richard Tuck
    Cambridge, 295 pp, £17.99, February 2016, ISBN 978 1 107 57058 0

In the run-up to the EU referendum, the Leave campaign has struggled to win the argument about jobs, prosperity, the value of the pound in your pocket and world peace, but has felt on safer ground invoking the threat to sovereignty. Yet the Leavers’ confident use of the term masks its ambiguity. We understand that Parliament and not the reigning monarch is sovereign, in the sense that Parliament is the highest law-making institution in the land. We also accept that the British system of government is based on a principle called ‘parliamentary sovereignty’. But the impact of EU membership on some more general thing we call ‘sovereignty’ has always been contentious.

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[*] Post Sovereign Constitution Making: Learning and Legitimacy by Andrew Arato (Oxford, 320 pp., £60, March, 978 0 19 875598 2).