At the height of Brexit quarrelling, the Daily Mail ran an infamous piece attacking judges who had ruled that a parliamentary act was needed to begin Britain’s exit from the EU. With little subtlety, the headline described the judges as “enemies of the people”.
Conservatives have continued to bridle at judicial overreach, with the lord chancellor Robert Buckland having just opened a consultation on judicial review. It is therefore interesting that in a recent speech to Queen Mary University of London he took a swipe at the infamous headline, saying it covered neither judges nor the government.
The truth is that neither the executive nor the judges are, to borrow a regrettable and wholly wrong headline, ‘enemies of the people’. Far from it, we are both the servants of Parliament and the people.
Buckland’s consultation has led to accusations that he has ignored a recently-concluded review on judicial powers led by Edward Faulks. Polly Sweeney, a partner at Rook Irwin Sweeney, stopped just short of telling the Law Society Gazette that “the government did not like the answers it was given through the review and so is having another go”.
James Slack, the Mail journalist credited by the Oldie with writing the enemies headline, later joined Theresa May’s government as a spokesman, continuing under Boris Johnson. Having become Downing Street comms director at the start of the year, he is quitting the role to become deputy editor-in-chief at the Sun. Time will tell whether his interest in constitutional theory continues at the current bun…