The Patel/Alex Allan affair is a small but exact example of the trend in this week’s cover story on executive power: the relaxing of post-1976 restraints on ministers, the widening of their discretion, and the "restoration" of the elected over unelected.
In Lord Hailsham’s day, where the story starts, the code was an internal memo. First published in ’92 & Allan’s job created in 2006. It works in step with the civil service code (set in law in 2010) compelling ministers to uphold its impartiality and consider their advice.
The consequence being that minister’s freedom to do as they like is formally constrained, and if they do a bad thing (like Priti or Michael Fallon or Mark Garnier did) the process for investigating it is codified, independent and public. No more quiet words in the smoking room.
That this has anything to do with EU state aid law, judges, Scotland might seem a lazy amalgam of Brexiteers wanting smash stuff. But it is a real, coherent and new conservative philosophy: the “restoration” of the elected ministers and the widening of their window of discretion
And a “rebalancing” of the separation of powers towards the executive. In short: that Priti is accountable for the exercise of her judgement to MPs and the people of Witham, not Alex Allan, Brenda Hale or the European Commission.
Vernon Bogdanor describes the Blair reforms as classic exercise in liberal limited government, "seeking to secure liberty by cutting power into pieces." Sensing voters are dissatisfied with those operating the checks, it's being glued back together...
In the absence of checks, the executive must be self-restraining - the "good chaps" theory of government. And as Peter Hennessy says: “The problem with this government is its alarm bells don’t ring.”
There's no Patel in it, for obvious time reasons, but the story is here:…
The postscript is comparisons to Trump, PiS, don’t work. This is a very English and conservative idea: a course correction , forestalling revolution by evolution, saving overmighty bigwigs from themselves. The risk is a return to the bad habits of unchecked govt of the past...

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19 Sep 19
Miller2/Cherry day 3. First up, Lord Advocate for Scotland (Scottish govt senior legal officer) James Wolffe QC
Wolffe's case is that judicial review operates on a "sliding scale" with greater intensity when constitutional principles are at stake. The court must give it a "rigorous and searching review."

Judge Carnwath says he's a critic of concept of sliding scales.
The government's case is separation of powers between court and parliament.

Wollfe says separation of powers is "predicated on accountability of government to parliament". Court must grip what happens if this is removed.
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