Incomplete sovereignty: The British house of commons and the completion of the internal market in the European Communities

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Abstract

Two orthodoxies have been close to the heart of the British state since the mid-19th century. The first is a theory of liberal political economy of free trade and free market transactions; the second is a liberal theory of the constitution of parliamentary sovereignty. Both came to ascendancy in the middle decades of the last century, and both have exerted hegemonic influence in subsequent economic and constitutional discourse. Their rise to hegemony was interconnected as the embryonic liberal democratic state assisted the development of the liberal political economy and, in turn, the latter helped to ensure the stability and expansion of the former. Over the past century, however,
both orthodoxies have faced substantial theoretical and empirical challenges, yet, both remain, in diffefent ways, hegemonic. But now, whilst remaining interconnected, the congruity, which was so marked in the mid-19th century, has been replaced by asymmetry whereby free trade and parliamentary sovereignty now appear counterposed. The clearest manifestation of this asymmetry is to be found in the discussion of the European Communities (Amendment) Act in the
British House of Commons in 1986 and the implementation of the Single European Act. Why this counterposition has occurred is the major issue to be addressed in this article.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-455
Number of pages15
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Volume41
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1988

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free trade
European Community
asymmetry
sovereignty
political economy
act
market
hegemony
amendment
transaction
constitution
discourse
economics

Keywords

  • house of commons
  • sovereignty
  • internal market
  • European communities

Cite this

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title = "Incomplete sovereignty: The British house of commons and the completion of the internal market in the European Communities",
abstract = "Two orthodoxies have been close to the heart of the British state since the mid-19th century. The first is a theory of liberal political economy of free trade and free market transactions; the second is a liberal theory of the constitution of parliamentary sovereignty. Both came to ascendancy in the middle decades of the last century, and both have exerted hegemonic influence in subsequent economic and constitutional discourse. Their rise to hegemony was interconnected as the embryonic liberal democratic state assisted the development of the liberal political economy and, in turn, the latter helped to ensure the stability and expansion of the former. Over the past century, however, both orthodoxies have faced substantial theoretical and empirical challenges, yet, both remain, in diffefent ways, hegemonic. But now, whilst remaining interconnected, the congruity, which was so marked in the mid-19th century, has been replaced by asymmetry whereby free trade and parliamentary sovereignty now appear counterposed. The clearest manifestation of this asymmetry is to be found in the discussion of the European Communities (Amendment) Act in the British House of Commons in 1986 and the implementation of the Single European Act. Why this counterposition has occurred is the major issue to be addressed in this article.",
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