Letter: EU promises constitutional reform

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The Independent Online
Sir: How absolutely right Conrad Russell is. He argues (Letters, 20 October) that the central problem with Britain's system of government is the unaccountable power of Parliament (which, of course, includes the Lords and the monarchy, too).

He suggests that this needs to be changed, but also argues that 'I have come to the conclusion that this cannot be done in English law'. Thus 'the only power capable of controlling Parliament, and therefore giving us genuine constitutional government, is the European Union'.

Thankfully, with Chancellor Kohl's re-election, Europe will now proceed, in the intergovernmental conference, to construct a formal federal constitution -which will both regularise the present supra-national system of Europe and further deeper its federal character.

Because of the provincial character of much of our media, many British people remain unaware of the dramatic character of what is happening.

As Britain becomes absorbed in the European Union, we are facing the most radical shake-up in our long history, a constitutional revolution which will deliver all that constitutional reformers have been campaigning for. Under the auspices of the new Europe, we will soon be able to throw off the constraints of our ancien regime: we will actually have, at last, a written constitution, a genuine separation of powers, serious regional government, possibly even a Bill of Rights (and a US-style Supreme Court, the European Court of Justice, to protect our citizens' rights).

Yet, this new European constitution will, ultimately, come into conflict with our own reactionary British system of 'Crown in Parliament'. Thus, in order to properly adapt the Union's new constitution to our own politics, we will need to abandon, or reform out of existence, the centralised, unaccountable British 'Crown' - which still remains, theoretically at least, the source of loyalty and authority.

This is why the monarchy remains an important, indeed crucial, issue in the European debate. When we have a real constitution, then judges and MPs (even peers like Lord Russell) will no longer take oaths of allegiance to an unelected, unaccountable monarch but, rather, to a democratic constitution.

Yours, STEPHEN HASELER Chairman, Republic London, W14 20 October

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