Parliamentary sovereignty is a fundamental principle shared by democracies around the world, based on the belief that political power should be subject to scrutiny by elected representatives accountable to the people they serve.
Yet in recent years, this reciprocal democratic settlement between politicians and citizens has been under attack from nationalist authoritarian regimes, anti-liberal populist movements, and disinformation wars – so-called ‘fake news’ – designed to divide and mislead electorates.
The UK Parliament, widely seen as the model for parliamentary systems worldwide, has been the centre of competing claims around national sovereignty generated by both the Brexit debate and the devolution of power to the constituent nations of the United Kingdom.
The longue durée of the COVID-19 lockdown and the contested prorogation of Parliament prior to that have called into question just how sovereign parliament really is.
Join us for this year’s Oxford Putney Debates, as we examine The Sovereignty of Parliament to determine who really wields ultimate power – and expose the shifting power dynamics at work under the fault lines of post-Brexit Britain.
Free, interactive and online
For the first time ever, we will be staging the Putney Debates as a free, interactive, online-only series of debates, open to all and accessible from the comfort of your own home.
The 2020 Oxford Putney Debates will be chaired by the renowned legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg and the founder of the Oxford Putney Debates Professor Denis Galligan.
Our expert panellists include Court of Appeal judges, legal and political commentators, philosophers and campaigners, and constitutional experts, who will set out their vision over a unique series of video commentaries and live webinar debates, staged online throughout October and November.
The Debates will be launched on 21 October with a livestreamed Keynote Lecture on The Future of Parliamentary Sovereignty and the video release of the opening presentations for the first debate.
This week is the first of the live debates, in which our expert panel will debate parliamentary sovereignty in relation to Empire, the devolved powers of the UK, the wider international context, and the relationship with the people of the UK.