Tories Prepare for Court and Boundary Reform

Following Guido being the first to reveal the Tories’ manifesto Supreme Court reform plans, while the manifesto ended up being as vague as expected (merely proposing a need to “look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts”), Guido can now reveal one specific being discussed is seeing a pivot in the remit of the Supreme Court. The change would turn the court away from focussing on “cases of the greatest public and constitutional importance” and instead returning to the Law Lords’ original predominant diet of the 80s and 90s, of the most complex cases adjudicating tax and commercial cases. It’s dry but important, stick with us…

The Tories’ victory in West Bromwich West is appropriately symbolic of their plans to deal with the courts. The 1948 Wednesbury Principle – named after a town in the constituency – created the ‘Wednesbury unreasonableness’ test, whereby the courts can only intervene to correct a move if it was:

“So outrageous in its defiance of logic or accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it.”

Senior Tories believe courts’ judicial reviews “have strayed so far from what was originally intended”, and if the Wednesbury Principle applied at the time, it would have resulted in Boris’s prorogation being deemed lawful.

In other constitutional rumours, Guido hears the Government is erring towards pushing boundary reforms through Parliament – which is an absolute legislative priority for them – without reducing the number of constituencies to 600, in order to avoid Tory MP rebellions. One senior Tory semi-jokingly claims the reduction is now not needed as MPs take on additional casework that used to be handled by MEPs…

Interestingly, findings now seem to show following the realignment of the parties in the General Election, the boundary review now benefits the Tories far less than it would have in 2015 or 2017. The Minister responsible for the review – when at one post-election event hosted by the Mayite ‘Onwards’ Think Tank – ended up having to ask them for their analysis on which parties would now stand to benefit…

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