Okay, not fun exactly, but I needed a title.
What I like about Britain’s constitution are all the little quirks in it. This entry is inspired by one in particular.
Tony Blair resigned as PM on Wednesday. People also know he resigned as an MP.
WRONG. MPs are not allowed to resign- this is because back in the 19th century some were elected against their will. So how does an MP step down in the middle of a parliament? They can choose not to stand for re-election, but Tone would have had to wait another two or three years for this.
What happens is the Chancellor of the Exchequer appoints an MP as “Steward and Bailliff of the Chiltern Hundreds”- a title stretching back 800 years to a time when the Chiltern Hills (a range of hills round the north/north-west of London) were so infested with bandits it required a crown appointee to keep the peace. An MP is not allowed to hold another Crown position, as that would compromise the neutrality of that post, so he is no longer an MP.
I realise this may seem very odd to Americans and Modernists- “This is the 21st century, we should do away with this”. I disagree. It is a harmless convention that adds a little colour to politics. It’s nice to know that there is this link to our past.