Britain's Political Constitution: A Normative Turn

21 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2009

See all articles by Graham Gee

Graham Gee

University of Birmingham

Grégoire Webber

Queen's University - Faculty of Law; London School of Economics - Law Department

Date Written: February 15, 2009


On one reading at least, the British constitution is slowly evolving towards, even if it does not yet fully embrace, a model of a 'legal constitution' - that is to say, a constitution distinguished by a framework of fundamental laws that generates judicially enforceable constraints on the legislature. Britain's seeming shift towards a model of a legal constitution is welcomed by many, but not by all. Political constitutionalists of late have been engaging in a normative defence of Britain's political constitution, both as a reaction against and attempt to move beyond the descriptivism often associated with JAG Griffith's model but also to resist appeals to the model of a legal constitution. One objective of Richard Bellamy's latest monograph, Political Constitutionalism: A Republican Defence of the Constitutionality of Democracy, is to challenge the view currently fashionable in Britain and elsewhere that a model of a legal constitution is superior, normatively and empirically, to that of a political constitution. In this article-length review essay, we reflect critically on Bellamy's model as we welcome the explicitly, self-consciously normative approach to thinking and talking about the idea of the political constitution.

Keywords: Political constitution, legal constitution, Richard Bellamy, JAG Griffith, Adam Tomkins, legislature

Suggested Citation

Gee, Graham and Webber, Grégoire, Britain's Political Constitution: A Normative Turn (February 15, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Graham Gee

University of Birmingham ( email )

Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Grégoire Webber (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L3N6


London School of Economics - Law Department ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom


Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics