Professor of Public Law & Chair of the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge | Blog: publiclawforeveryone.com | Views personal

Cambridge, UK
Joined July 2012
Many congratulations to all those shortlisted for this year's Birks Prize. I'm very pleased to see my colleague @domcogan and former @cambridgelaw doctoral candidate @NMavronicola on this list!
Delighted to announce the shortlist for this year's Birks Prize for outstanding legal scholarship. Our warmest congratulations to the shortlisted nominees🎉: @bev_clough @domcogan @__RichardMartinn @NMavronicola #lawacademic #lawprize legalscholars.ac.uk/news/pet…
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🚨Last week the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill was passed in the House of Commons. In response, the EU launched four new legal actions against the UK Government for failing to enforce the post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland. (1/3)
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Many thanks to @prospect_uk; I’m very grateful to be included in this list of ‘thinkers for a turbulent world’. The UK’s constitution, and the political context in which it sits, is certainly ‘turbulent’ at the moment — and has been for some time!
Replying to @prospect_uk
Mark Elliot (@ProfMarkElliott), chair of the law faculty @Cambridge_Uni, has provided astute analysis of the government's attitude to law. His blog 'Public Law for Everyone' seeks to cut through jurisprudence jargon to make the law accessible. Vote here: prospectmagazine.co.uk/magaz…
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Before I sign off for my holiday, thanks for all the thoughtful and encouraging responses to this thread. They’re much appreciated, and it’s reassuring to know others wrestle with similar issues. I’m fortunate that my positive interactions on here far outweigh the negative ones.
I’m starting some annual leave soon and plan to take a break from Twitter while I’m away. Before I do, a short thread—prompted by recent events and some reactions to things I’ve said—on politics and the role, as I see it, of legal academics. /1
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Confirmation that UK Government will table a confidence motion in itself. However, I don’t think this is a satisfactory answer to its refusal, contrary to well established principle, to make time for a confidence motion as framed by the Opposition. /1 theguardian.com/politics/202…
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The fundamental principle is that the Government must command the confidence of the House of Commons—a principle that is denied meaningful practical force if the Opposition cannot test whether the Government retains confidence by being granted time to move a confidence motion. /2
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The fact that the Government has now called a vote of confidence in itself may appear to suggest that any constitutional concerns are met: after all, confidence will tested, and so the underlying principles will be respected, won’t they? /3
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However, the picture seems more complex to me. Next week’s vote of confidence will occur only because the *Government* has so chosen. This risks eroding the foundational principle that the *Opposition* has a constitutional right to test confidence. 4/4
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I agree with this very good thread. If the Government were to call a vote of confidence in itself, that would not meet concerns about its failure, in line with established principle, to allow time to debate a motion of no confidence as framed by the Opposition.
Important that the principle of being able to call a confidence vote seen to be adhered to.
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Thank you for your constructive feedback.
And failed miserably. As I keep pointing out to you.
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I’m not so naive to think that politics and law are separate, or that there is ultimately any such thing as wholly ‘objective’ legal analysis. At some level, we are all influenced, whether we acknowledge it or not, by our own underlying, including political, philosophy. /4
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So the line, such as it is for those of us who seek to tread it, is a fuzzy one; questions of degree are in play. I certainly don’t pretend that I always get this (or anything else) ‘right’. But I’ve been brought up short by those who’ve assumed I’m just ‘doing politics’. /5
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That will encourage me to think about how I frame things in the future. But ultimately (and perhaps I would say this), I think that my approach has remained broadly constant, while the nature of what is going on, constitutionally and politically, has shifted significantly. /6
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Many of the issues I’ve commented on recently have concerned the unwillingness of the Government, Ministers or the PM to adhere to the law and to basic constitutional standards. I’d like to think, and am pretty sure, I’d call that out whichever Government was in office. /7
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Repeatedly criticising the current Government, particular Ministers or the PM may understandably give the impression of a ‘political’ stance, but the reality is that it is the exceptional conduct we have witnessed that has provided the occasion for that criticism. /8
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I’ve had a fair amount of somewhat abusive responses to things I’ve posted recently (although nothing like many have to put up with), which is partly what’s made me think about all of this. /9
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My takeaway is that it’s important for academics and other experts to be willing to ‘speak truth to power’ and, in my view at least, to strive for a degree of objectivity that springs from grounding critique in expertise. I’ll continue to try my best to do that. 10/10
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