Walking the dark side: evading parliamentary scrutiny

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Parliamentary scrutiny assumes a dual willingness—a willingness of government to be scrutinised and a willingness of Parliament to scrutinise, alongside a singular capacity: the ability of Parliament to scrutinise. In the official Westminster view of scrutiny these principles and practicalities are aligned and serve to illuminate the processes and actions of government. There is, however, also a ‘dark side’: where the principles and practicalities of scrutiny are not aligned. While an aversion to parliamentary scrutiny has been hard‐wired into the ‘executive mentality’, the ‘ministerial mindset’, and the ‘instincts of secrecy’ shared by all contemporary UK governments, an examination of the first eighteen months of Boris Johnson's premiership—in the exceptionally turbulent times of ‘getting Brexit done’ and ‘beating coronavirus’—reveals a distinct propensity of his Conservative government to walk on the dark side of parliamentary scrutiny in this period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-292
Number of pages10
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Issue number2
Early online date26 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2021


  • parliament
  • Westminster
  • Brexit
  • Covid-19
  • scrutiny
  • executive mentality


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