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Queen in ‘tricky position’ following PM’s move to suspend Parliament

An expert said there could be ‘treacherous things’ for the Queen to deal with.

The Queen with Boris Johnson (Victoria Jones/PA)
The Queen with Boris Johnson (Victoria Jones/PA)

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent

The Queen may face “treacherous situations” in the weeks ahead after being drawn into the “contentious and divisive” Brexit issue by the Prime Minister’s decision to suspend Parliament, an expert has said.

Mike Gordon, professor of constitutional law at the University of Liverpool, said if MPs launch a successful no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson, to challenge his proroguing of parliament, the monarch could be in a difficult position if the Tory leader refuses to resign.

While, if the opposition parties manage to get legislation through parliament to stop a no-deal Brexit, the Government could advise the Queen not to give it royal assent and so become law, against accepted convention.

The front entrance to Balmoral Castle (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Prof Gordon said about the decision to prorogue Parliament: “I think this definitely puts the Queen in a potentially tricky position because it’s drawing her into the most contentious and divisive political debate in the UK over the last few years.

“I think it’s effectively a fait accompli in that the Queen is a neutral, a formal, constitutional actor who stands above and apart from politics and she doesn’t really exercise, for the most part, any discretion of her own.

How, if at all, could they (opposition parties) persuade her (the Queen) to sack Boris Johnson and give the alternative government a chance, if he's refusing to resign? Professor Mike Gordon

“She acts on the advice of her ministers and in particular her Prime Minister and so when the Prime Minister, through the Privy Council, requests Parliament be prorogued, then realistically it’s impossible to imagine the Queen refusing to grant that. ”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has written to the Queen to express his concerns about the proroguing of parliament and to request a meeting.

Prof Gordon outlined possibly scenarios that could prove problematic for the head of state.

If legislation to stop a no-deal Brexit is passed by parliament, he said: “There’s the possibility the Government might advise the Queen not to give the royal assent and at that point we’ll be in difficult constitutional territory, I think at that point she would have a really hard decision about whether she would follow that advice or not.

“The convention she gives the royal assent to anything Parliament will pass, clashes with the convention she acts on ministerial advice.”

Commenting on the possibility of the Prime Minister being ousted by MPs, the academic added: “If it is the vote of no confidence route, what happens if Boris Johnson loses the vote of no confidence but refuses to resign?”

The academic questioned how the opposition parties would persuade the Queen there is a viable administration waiting in the wings.

He said: “How, if at all, could they persuade her to sack Boris Johnson and give the alternative government a chance, if he’s refusing to resign?

“So there’s potentially more treacherous things down the road for the Queen.”



From Belfast Telegraph