There are 3 types of sovereignty:

  • Legal sovereignty
  • Popular sovereignty
  • Political sovereignty
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Legal Sovereignty

Legal sovereignty in the UK lies in Parliament:

  • No other other bodies have the power to make laws, due to Parliamentary Sovereignty (A.V Dicey).
  • This has to be clarified in light of the EU. However, the UK has the power to restore all sovereignty to itself.
  •  In addition, any subsidiary powers, such as powers to Scotland through the Scotland Act, could be repealed.
  • Parliament consists of the elected HOC and the unelected HOL, and exists 4-5 years, between eelctions. 
  • Therefore rules made are not bound to new Parliaments. 
  • E,g, New Zealand do not have a codified constitution, so their Parliaments can also pass basic laws that cannot be repealed in the future. 

Central govt is legal sovereign between elections because:

  • it has been granted the people's mandate, but is overruled by Parliament.
  • Pooled Sovereignty, is sovereignty shared between the EU and UK.
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Popular Sovereignty

Popular Sovereignty is the people's decision, which is effectively binding on the political system, in an election or referendum. People are sovereign because:

  • The people elect a Parliament and a govt at each General Election, which cannot be challenged.
  • Once elecyed, the party must carry out the policies stated in its manifesto because it has a mandate, granted from the people.
  • Despite the results not being binding (as Parliament is legally sovereign), referendums are held and it is inconceivable that a govt or Parliament would not accept the result.
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Political Sovereignty

Political sovereignty refers to the location of real power, which lies in the PM and govt in the UK:

  • The UK govt is sovereign because it has a mandate of the people, so most of its proposals are certain to be accepted through Parliament. 
  • PM has prerogative powers, which cannot be overruled by Parliament, without passing a special Act of Parliament. 
  • Devolution has meant that areas of the UK, such as Scotland and Wales, have political sovereignty over some policy making. 

The monarch's sovereignty has been outdated, as they can only give Royal Assent (ceremonial), so they are technically part of Parliament, but their role is very limited and is just ceremonial. 

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