A thread by Labour MP Jess Phillips on the need to protect the independence of the judiciary which is currently being questioned by Boris Johnson’s government although the separation of powers has been at the heart of the UK Constitution since the Act of Settlement 1701.

First published in February 2020.

I find the proposals to “review” the judges and and judicial review process chilling.

Having assisted with a number of judicial reviews and super complaints to protect victims of domestic abuse I can see that, without the courts, citizens would have been less safe.

One judicial review stopped councils being able to demand local connection for access to housing for victims and their children who had to flee beyond their local authority area.

It gave safety to people threatened with murder and rape.

Another worked towards allowing migrant victims to report violence to the police without fear of deportation (this is a work in progress).

Every government, no matter how well intentioned, needs a check and balance.

There are a number of things that make our democracy brilliant, one is the closeness of representatives to the people.

In many countries the idea that your representative would knock your door, or be available on a Friday night to chat and some help, is unprecedented. Here it’s the norm.

Another is the separation of the government and courts, which allows for scrutiny.


I say this as someone who could write a thread about judgements I have not liked, or cite examples of criticism I have made of our courts system.

But we lose the separation at our peril.

It’s authoritarianism to want to control our courts, or to expect political favour from them.

We should all resist it.

Tweets posted on 15 February 2020 by @jessphillips.

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 16 February 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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