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Liberal Democrats back call for Citizen Convention

Tom Brake MP, of the Liberal Democrats, has written to the Centre to express their support for a Citizen Convention on Constitutional Reform. This is fifth major party to express their support, adding to previous statements from The Green Party and Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the leader of The Party for Cornwall.

Tom Brake writes:

Thank you for your correspondence. I applaud your organisation's initiative. The backbone of any well functioning democracy is undeniably a well-informed and passionate citizenry.

Liberal Democrats have long called for a written and codified constitution. We believe that Britain is currently an over-centralised political system with a lack of openness and accountability. Parliament is unrepresentative of the electorate and weak in restraining the power of the government, we still have an unelected House of Lords, local government is hobbled by central control, and people feel they have no effective means of making known their concerns and priorities. It’s no wonder people feel frustrated and angry at the system.

This anger found its most recent expression in the result of the EU referendum, but ironically this was as much a verdict on the performance of British political institutions as European ones. The Conservatives’ EU Withdrawal Bill threatens to centralise power even more, handing to central government powers to alter vast swathes of the statute book without proper parliamentary scrutiny.

This is why we support the establishment of a Constitutional Convention, pulling together representatives of all sections of society, to draw up a written constitution.

We believe in a United Kingdom where people have power over their own lives and how their country is run. To make this happen we need to revitalise our political system – strengthen devolution, make the argument that we are stronger together than we are apart, and increase trust in our institutions.

It is undeniable that reforms of this magnitude are far from easy, but their potential benefits vastly outweigh any pitfalls that may be found along the way. I hope this email has served to clarify my position on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Regards

Tom Brake

Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington

Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for welfare Reform added:

It is very positive to get this message from a leading Liberal Democrat MP. As Tom Brake notes we are currently amidst a major constitutional crisis as we leave the European Union; however the reasons for Brexit are not fundamentally about Europe, they are about the UK's failure to protect the interests and listen to the voices of the poorest, weakest and most marginal. We live in a highly centralised system operating according to archaic and elitist principles. It is time for change.

You can read the letter outlining the case for constitutional reform, co-signed by a wide alliance here.