Historian: Queen Should Suspend Parliament to Stop Remain MPs from Blocking Brexit

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Historian and broadcaster Andrew Roberts has urged the Prime Minister to call on the Queen to suspend the parliamentary session until Brexit takes effect of March 29th, to deny Remain plotters the opportunity to derail it.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 enshrined March 29th as exit day in law, and so a clean, No Deal break with the bloc is now on course by default, given the crushing defeat of Theresa May’s proposed deal in the so-called “meaningful vote”.

The EU Withdrawal Act allows for a minister to alter that date, however, and it could of course be overturned by swift and concerted parliamentary action — and with the Remain-supporting Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow disregarding the advice of his Clerks and breaking with centuries of precedent in order to allow Remain MPs to amend Government motions in Parliament, and the legislature’s Remain-dominated Liaison Committee scheming to take control of the Brexit process, No Deal could soon be usurped as the default option.

Andrew Roberts, author of a number of popular history books on figures including Sir Winston Churchill and Napoleon Bonaparte, and a Visiting Professor at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, has therefore called on the Prime Minister to use what has been described as “the nuclear option” to put an end to Remain MPs’ machinations, by calling on Queen Elizabeth II to prorogue (suspend) the parliamentary session until after March 29th, preventing them from blocking No Deal and presenting them with a fait accompli.

“A strong PM wouldd [sic] prorogue Parliament till 30 March as soon as it became clear that Parliament was about to flout the will of the people,” he wrote. “She would be well within her constitutional rights, and protecting democracy.”

Prorogation does not dissolve Parliament — the Government can no longer call a dissolution via the monarch without reference to MPs since the passage of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 — but merely suspends it temporarily until a new session is called, causing all motions and almost all parliamentary bills to lapse in the meantime.

With the EU Withdrawal Act already on the books, however, the March 29th exit day for Brexit would continue to count down even if Parliament was not sitting, with the United Kingdom and the European Union defaulting to a World Trade Organization (WTO) relationship when the day arrives.

Anne McElvoy, a BBC presenter and editor at the Remain-supporting Economist, has complained that exercising the Queen’s prerogative power to prorogue in this way “would be despotic”.

It is normally used uncontroversially, to commence recesses and so on — although in practice suspending the parliamentary session in order to block Brexit-wrecking legislative action would have much the same effect as a presidential veto in the United States, generally considered a legitimate check on the legislature.

Critics have also observed that Remain MPs’ apparent willingness to disregard the results of the 2016 referendum which Parliament authorised, as well as the manifesto pledges to take Britain out of the EU Customs Union, Single Market, and associated Free Movement regime which the overwhelming majority of MPs stood on ahead of the 2017 snap election which gave them their electoral mandate, is not exactly “democratic”.

The call to prorogue has already been taken up in Parliament by Brexiteer MP and Iraq War veteran Sir Desmond Swayne, who called on Theresa May to exercise the constitutional power in order to “guarantee Brexit”.

The Prime Minister, a former Remain campaigner herself, seemed hesitant, however, suggesting Mr Swayne was “trying to tempt me down a road that I do not think I should go down.”

Observers have noted with amusement that proroguing Parliament in order to ensure the people’s vote to Leave the European Union is carried through would cast the Queen in the role of Cromwell, the regicide statesman who famously dismissed the corrupt Long Parliament by force, declaring: “It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place… You who were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.”

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