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Reasons Why Britain needs a Written Constitution Essay

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Updated: Jun 20th, 2020

Britain does not have a formally written constitution. Instead, the country relies on common law precedents and on conventions to serve the role that statute law serves in other countries. The common law precedents in Britain, which can be written or unwritten, and specific treaties and treaties have constitutional force.

Reasons why Britain needs a Written Constitution

Several arguments coming from different authors have opened up debate as to why it is important for Britain to have a written constitution. As a developed nation, it is relied upon to lead from the front and set standards of rule through a well researched, agreed on and well-documented constitution (Loughlin, 2013).

According to Thompson (2012), Britain is a prominent country in the European region, and in the whole world. Thompson (2012) specifically notes that Britain’s constituent nations look upon it to for direction in leadership, cultural practices, beliefs, values and attitudes.

As Jennings (2011) points out, the nation’s constitution is a sum of all its past experiences. Although Britain did not enter into democracy through an uprising, it is important for it to have a well-documented constitution that outlines the rules for every assembly, and which can be followed by all its constituent nations (i.e. Scotland, Wales and England).

According to Jennings (2011), civil wars across the world are as a result of lack of well formulated, researched and agreed upon practices that are meant to keep and sustain social order. Recently one of Scotland went for a referendum in order to gain independence (Morris, Boston &Butler, 2011). The action by Scotland is arguably due to lack of cohesion among the national entities that makeup Britain, something that perhaps could be avoided if the country had a written constitution.

There is a need for well laid down procedures under which a leader of Government, in this case the Prime Minister is elected, leaves office or resigns. Additionally, Britain also needs to document conditions under which the Prime Minister can be removed from power. The current governance structure has no documentation on how these cases can be handled, and this leaves avenues of misconduct by those in charge of government (Thompson, 2013).

Bennett and Solum (2011) argue that leaving the process of making laws to one institution is a dangerous precedent. The two authors note that the institution can be subject to sectarian and partisan interests. Such biased interest can yield major disagreements and, therefore, compromise the sovereignty of the nation or yield conflict. The foregoing possibility provides one more reason Britain should have a written constitution (Bennett & Solum, 2011).

The British beliefs, values and attitude are clearly demonstrated in the social order that exists. The monarch system is arguably well organized with the Queen being the center of power. A written constitution would, however, ensure the influence of lawmakers is kept in check and that avenues of partisan interests in the passing of important legislation, are reduced. Without a written constitution, lawmakers have absolute influence on all aspects of laws. Such influence can lead to the creation of very unpopular laws that may lead to corruption (Krishnan, 2007).

All areas of rule and control of public affairs and institutions have to be accounted for (Webley & Samuels, 2012). Notably, Britain has integrated creation of public awareness in the existing laws through the education system. Consequently, Britain’s citizens learn about existing laws in schools and colleges. However, attempts to create public awareness are not effective since the laws keep changing (Webley & Samuels, 2012). Constant changes have arguably, therefore, left the public with stacks incoherent laws.

Proponents of a written constitution argue that Britain’s government is imposing its will on its citizens. They argue that there is a need establish the relationships between these institutions and ensure that they (institutions) adhere to specific policies, laws and regulations (Webley & Samuels, 2012).

According to Bliss (2011), the British citizens are well informed about political matters. They are capable of keenly analyzing the legislative potential in the leaders they elect. The standards of electing competent and most trusted leaders have been set so high in the country, such that there is no need for a written document to guide the process.

According to Great Britain, Parliament, House of Commons and Culture and Sports Committee (2010), there are propositions, coalition agreements and substance of change that are in use in Britain. What remains, therefore, is all the foregoing to be formalized and made into a constitution. Since citizens are Britain’s major stakeholders, Loughlin (2013) argues that they (citizens) should demand for a codified constitution from the government.

Loughlin (2013) explains that international laws are always changing. Britain should demonstrate to the world that domestically, its laws are up to standard. With globalization and the formation of regional unions such as the European Union, domestic laws will need to be harmonized with regional or global laws. Without a written constitution, Britain will arguably find it hard to harmonize its laws with those of its global or regional bodies.

As Ducat (2012) argues, Britain’s claims that it has a set of laws and policies of checking the excesses of rule are not satisfying. In the said laws, there are silent clauses in regard to how the state plans to expand and contract other territories. From history, Britain took over control of many countries forcefully (Clemit, 2011; Grafton, Most & Settis, 2010). Having a written constitution that guarantees the rights of people from other nations that are likely to be contacted by British is thus paramount (Anyangwe, 2010; Chopra, 2011).


For any written constitution to be created, the citizens must agitate for it. Britons have showed little interest in a written constitution. Arguably, their lack of interest shows that the public has no desire for change. In addition, the constitution is usually passed through a referendum, which is asked for by the lawmakers. The lawmakers in Britain rarely discuss the constitution. Instead, they are always creating pieces of legislation that are uncontrolled.


Anyangwe, C. (2010). The secrets of an aborted decolonization: The declassified British secret files on the Southern Cameroons. Mankon, Bamenda: Langaa RPCIG.

Bennett, R.W., & Solum, L. (2011). Constitutional originalism: A debate. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press.

Bliss, M. (2011). Writing history: A professor’s life. Toronto: Dundurn Press.

Chopra, R. (2011). Unnatural rebellion: Loyalists in New York City during the revolution. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

Clemit, P. (2011). The Cambridge companion to British literature of the French revolution in the 1790s. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ducat, C. R. (2012). Constitutional interpretation: powers of government. London: Wadsworth Publishing.

Grafton, A., Most, G. W., & Settis, S. (2010). The classical tradition. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press

Great Britain, Parliament, House of Commons, & Culture and Sports Committee. (2010). BBC annual report 2008-09: Fifth report of session 2009-10. London: Stationery Office.

Jennings, I. (2011). The approach to self-government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Krishnan, S. (2007). Reading the global: Troubling perspectives on Britain’s empire in Asia. New York: Columbia University Press.

Loughlin, M. (2013). The British constitution: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Morris, C., Boston, J., & Butler, P. (2011). Reconstituting the constitution. Berlin: Springer.

Thompson, W. C. (2012). Western Europe (31st ed.). Lanham, MD: Stryker-Post Publications.

Thompson, W. C. (2013). Western Europe (32nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Stryker-Post Publications.

Webley, L., & Samuels, H. (2012). Public law: Text, cases, and materials. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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