Magna Carta, Brexit, British

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces accusations of triggering the biggest constitutional crisis in decades after he announced that parliament would be suspended for around a month shortly before the country is due to leave the European Union. While Johnson says it is customary for parliament to be suspended – or “prorogued” – before a government outlines its new policy priorities in a Queen’s Speech, his opponents say the timing and length of the suspension is designed to sideline parliament in the countdown to Brexit. Britain has an uncodified constitution, meaning it is largely upheld through convention and precedent. The constitution has changed dramatically down the centuries, with monarchs steadily surrendering their once-vast powers to the government and prime minister of the day. Johnson required Queen Elizabeth’s formal consent to suspend parliament but she was equally required, by custom, to grant it. Following is a timeline of some major constitutional crises over the last eight centuries that have pitted the executive power – originally the crown and later governments acting in its name – against the legislative arm. WHOSE CONSTITUTION? ENGLAND, BRITAIN AND THE UK The story begins in the origins of England’s constitution. England annexed the principality of Wales in the 1530s and then forged the Acts of Union with Scotland in 1707 to create Great Britain. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was formed in 1801 after the Acts of Union with Ireland, before the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922 left the “UK”…

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