Senior members of the United Kingdom’s ruling Conservative party are so concerned about the country leaving the European Union without a deal that they are planning to go over the new Prime Minister’s head and appeal directly to the Queen.
Fears are growing among politicians that if and when Boris Johnson becomes PM next week, he could take the UK out of the European Union without any sort of deal later this year, causing huge damage to the economy.
They’re so desperate to stop him pursuing a no-deal Brexit that one group of senior Conservatives told the BBC that they are planning to go straight to the monarch.
Queen Elizabeth has built her reputation by remaining studiously impartial, and won’t want any part of the move. But the politicians could theoretically force her to enter the controversy by using an arcane and rarely used parliamentary procedure called the “humble address.”
This is effectively a direct call from parliament to the palace, bypassing Downing Street. This rebel group plans to use it to ask the Queen to exercise her right as head of state to travel to the next EU summit and ask for a Brexit delay.
But that would put the Queen in an awkward position; her likely response would be to bounce it straight back to the government, according to leading constitutional experts.
Professor Vernon Bogdanor of King’s College London told CNN: “The safest rule for the Queen is always to take the advice of her ministers. That keeps her safe from criticism.”
Meanwhile Robert Hazell, professor of government and constitution at University College London, says the strategy is a complete non-starter.
“MPs might use a motion for a humble address to indicate their strong opposition to No Deal, or strong opposition to Parliament being prorogued; but the idea of the Queen attending the EU summit is absurd,” Hazell told CNN.
“Summit meetings are for heads of government, not heads of state: Denmark will be represented by their PM, not their Queen, and ditto all the other monarchies in the EU (of which there are six, in addition to the UK),” he added.
This latest twist in the UK’s Brexit saga shows how concerned some politicians are about Johnson’s premiership, even within his own party. On Thursday lawmakers voted to make it more difficult for the new leader to suspend parliament and impose a no-deal Brexit.