Boris John­son has had his move ap­proved by the Queen

Daily Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Richard Palmer Royal Cor­re­spon­dent

THE Queen was hauled into a long-feared con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis over Brexit yes­ter­day af­ter ap­prov­ing the sus­pen­sion of Par­lia­ment for up to five weeks.

Her con­sent to the or­der pro­rogu­ing Par­lia­ment from no ear­lier than Septem­ber 9 and no later than Septem­ber 12 un­til Oc­to­ber 14 will se­verely ham­per the ef­forts of Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son’s op­po­nents to stop a no-deal Brexit.

Three Con­ser­va­tive mem­bers of the Privy Coun­cil – Leader of the Com­mons Ja­cob Rees-Mogg, Leader of the Lords Baroness Natalie Evans and Chief Whip Mark Spencer – flew to Aberdeen to meet the 93-year-old monarch in the li­brary of her High­land re­treat, Bal­moral Cas­tle, pic­tured be­low.

Re­quest

Their brief meet­ing, for which the Privy Coun­sel­lors stood ac­cord­ing to tra­di­tion while the monarch sim­ply said “ap­proved” af­ter the or­der was read out, came af­ter Mr John­son spoke to the Queen on the phone yes­ter­day morn­ing to re­quest an end to the cur­rent par­lia­men­tary ses­sion.

It was a de­ci­sion that pro­voked out­rage at West­min­ster and ju­bi­la­tion among the PM’s sup­port­ers be­cause of the im­pli­ca­tions for a no-deal Brexit.

It is not un­usual for Par­lia­ment to be sus­pended be­fore a new Queen’s Speech set­ting out a new government pro­gramme but usu­ally it is only for a few days.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn and his Lib­eral Demo­crat coun­ter­part Jo Swin­son both wrote to the Queen to protest and de­mand an ur­gent meet­ing with her, while the House of Com­mons Speaker John Ber­cow said Mr John­son’s move was a “con­sti­tu­tional out­rage”.

Bri­tain’s Repub­li­can move­ment com­plained that there was lit­tle point in hav­ing a monar­chy if it failed to act as a check and bal­ance and only ever did the bid­ding of the Prime Min­is­ter. But con­sti­tu­tional ex­perts said the Queen had lit­tle choice but to ap­prove Mr John­son’s re­quest.

They pointed out that by con­ven­tion she acts on the ad­vice of her Prime Min­is­ter, who is as­sumed to have the con­fi­dence of Par­lia­ment. She is sup­posed to re­main po­lit­i­cally neu­tral and, in ad­di­tion to her role as head of state, act as a force for na­tional unity and con­ti­nu­ity.

Dr Bob Mor­ris, a con­sti­tu­tion ex­pert at Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don, said if the Queen had re­fused the re­quest or agreed to the de­mands of op­po­si­tion lead­ers to meet her be­fore mak­ing the de­ci­sion she would have faced greater risks.

“That would have meant go­ing be­hind the back of her Prime Min­is­ter,” he said.

He pre­dicted, how­ever, that the con­tro­versy would lead to MPs set­ting up an in­quiry and cre­at­ing a new statu­tory duty for Par­lia­ment to have to vote to ap­prove its sus­pen­sion.

Vote

He also sug­gested that MPs might cre­ate a duty for a new prime min­is­ter to have to face a con­fir­ma­tory vote, just as the first min­is­ters in Scot­land, North­ern Ire­land and Wales al­ready have to do.

Another ex­pert, Dr Ruth Fox, di­rec­tor of the Hansard So­ci­ety, said: “The Government’s de­ci­sion to pro­rogue Par­lia­ment may not be un­con­sti­tu­tional or un­law­ful but it is an af­front to par­lia­men­tary democ­racy.

“The Government’s un­der­stand­able de­sire to bring this long ses­sion to an end and out­line a new leg­isla­tive pro­gramme in a Queen’s Speech could be met with a pro­ro­ga­tion of one to two weeks’ du­ra­tion.

“Any­thing longer than this is both un­nec­es­sary and be­yond the norm.”

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