Bill of Rights

Jonathan Sumption


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Bodleian Library
14 October 2022
ISBN: 9781851246038
96 pages

From the publisher

In 2017, the Government’s attempt to trigger Article 50 and so leave the European Union resulted in a judgement by the Supreme Court, which stated that the Government was unentitled to do so without the consent of Parliament, directly citing the Bill of Rights in its judgement.

Ironically, the Bill of Rights, enacted in 1689 to address abuses by the Crown, was successfully invoked in the twenty-first century to curb a perceived abuse by Government, acting in the name of the Crown.

Passed shortly after the Glorious Revolution, the Bill sets out the balance of power between Parliament and the Crown, prohibiting the sovereign from levying taxes, recruiting troops or suspending laws without Parliamentary consent. Establishing Parliament as the ultimate source of power in the land and enshrining basic civil rights first set out in Magna Carta but subsequently abridged, the Bill document can justly claim to serve as the origin of Britain’s democracy.

Published here with an introduction by Jonathan Sumption providing the historical context of the document and its influence over the centuries – particularly on the United States Bill of Rights – this edition shows how a number of the original clauses find renewed relevance in contemporary events.