Belfast Telegraph

Queen expresses dismay as toxic Brexit crisis escalates

Exasperated: the Queen
Exasperated: the Queen
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

The Queen has privately expressed her disappointment in today's politicians and lamented their "inability to govern" amidst the escalating Brexit crisis.

It is among the starkest political statements the monarch is known to have made during a 67-year reign, when her political views have rarely been exposed.

The remarks underline her exasperation with the political fallout from the 2016 EU referendum, which continues to divide the country and parliament.

According to The Sunday Times, the Queen made the comments at a private event shortly after David Cameron's resignation following the referendum, but a royal source said her frustration had since grown.

"I think she's really dismayed. I've heard her talking about her disappointment in the current political class and its inability to govern correctly," the source said.

Publicly, the Queen has remained impartial throughout the Brexit crisis, but a senior royal source, who witnessed the exchange, said: "She expressed her exasperation and frustration about the quality of our political leadership, and that frustration will only have grown."

The disclosure comes amid claims Boris Johnson would refuse to quit were he to lose a Commons confidence vote, leading Britain into the biggest constitutional crisis since the Civil War.

Last week, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, suggested that he would respond by sending the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to Buckingham Palace "in a cab" to tell the 93-year-old monarch the party was ready to assume power.

His comments are the latest sign that MPs seeking to stop a no-deal Brexit are planning to embroil the monarch in politics as they run out of parliamentary options.

Senior figures in Whitehall and royal circles say extensive talks have taken place about protecting the monarch's independence.

"The royal household wants to manage this in a way that doesn't damage the ongoing, long-term position of the crown," a senior Whitehall source said.

It is understood that the constitutional unit in the Cabinet Office has been providing advice about the Queen's possible role in Brexit.

Her aides are privately emphasising that parliament must decide who can form a government in the event that Johnson loses a confidence vote, and only then should the Queen be asked to see the new Prime Minister.

Their concern has been prompted by growing speculation that the Labour Party will call a vote of no confidence in Johnson when parliament returns.

Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the Queen could be required to ask the Labour leader or another senior politician to form a government that can command the confidence of the House of Commons.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment.

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