The Westminster Model is the term used to characterize the British constitutional system. This model makes the claim that it accurately captures the constitution and functioning of the UK government. The key feature of the model is a separation of powers which refers to the division of duties and authority into three distinct branches that are the legislative branch, also known as the Parliament, which is in charge of passing laws; the executive branch, known as the government, is in charge of enforcing laws and providing government services; and the judicial branch, known as the courts, interprets how laws should be applied. Such separation of power helps to divide the power and make a more transparent system. Other features of the model are the presence of parliamentary opposition parties and a ceremonial head of state, which is distinct from the head of government. These features allow the representation of minorities in the Parliament, as such they can participate in the construction of laws and regulations.
The Westminster Parliament has a number of ways, including the House of Lords, to bring the executive to account. The Lords, the upper chamber of a bicameral legislature, serves as a constitutional check and balance on executive power, fulfilling a key democratic requirement despite its non-election. A democratically elected lower house is a component of the Westminster system of governance. The prime minister is the second-in-command of the government after the executive members. The opposition, which is led by the leader of the party or parties with the second-highest number of seats in the lower house, is the next system to take effect. The prime minister and the cabinets are, therefore, totally in charge of Parliament under the British system. As the steering committee of Parliament, they are responsible for preparing and passing the majority of legislation as well as the budget.
The fundamental tenet of direct democracy is that voters will be more likely to approve new legislation if they have a direct say in their creation and substance. The Westminster paradigm, which is based on the idea that people’s representatives make the best laws rather than the people themselves. In the United Kingdom, several direct democratic techniques have been employed, such as the usage of referendums. Despite the fact that the administration is supposed to answer to Parliament, the House of Commons is under its control. The government introduces measures for Parliament to vote on, which almost invariably pass, and sets the agenda and timeline for advancing a bill through Parliament.
The delicate balance between the administration and Parliament that is the foundation of the United Kingdom constitution, which is largely founded on traditions, has been put under stress by Brexit. It has resulted in an ongoing conflict between Westminster and the minority Conservative administration of Theresa May, which depends on a supply and confidence deal with the Democratic Unionist Party. This has pushed the adversarial aspect of British parliamentary life to its breaking point. It has also posed an unprecedented challenge to the practices and procedures of Parliament, which were famously established by Erskine May in the nineteenth century. Some people believe that the outcome of the June 2016 referendum to leave the EU has strengthened the Westminster model (The Economist, 2016). Since the European label and pressure will be eliminated and Parliament will be allowed to act autonomously, this will have a significant impact on the Supremacy of Parliament.
The Economist. (2016). Shifting sands. The Economist.