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Taking liberties: Covid-19 and the anatomy of a constitutional catastrophe

We should soon get many of our personal freedoms back. But such have been the abuses of parliament, police and the law that we may never recover our standing as free citizens

By Adam Wagner   May 2021

How quickly does freedom die? A strange question to ask in a country that thinks of itself as blessed with venerable and supremely liberal constitutional arrangements. And certainly not one the self-styled Churchillian in No 10 expected to be facing when he won a huge majority in 2019 and proceeded to “break free” from Europe. And yet.

For much of Boris Johnson’s premiership, most British citizens have been locked in their homes, parliament has been marginalised, and the right to protest has been suspended by a public health emergency. Perhaps the most visceral evidence of our loss of liberty came when the country was confronted with the sight of the Metropolitan Police manhandling peaceful participants in a vigil for murdered Londoner Sarah Everard. Two days later, on 15th March, the government pushed through measures that give police powers to permanently limit such assemblies.

The question is fast…

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