Boris Johnson, the frontrunner in the Tory leadership race, is widely expected to take over as Prime Minister this week. Mr Johnson and his team have caused alarm among some Tories over the potential to prorogue Parliament and force through a no deal Brexit, which has been blocked in a vote of MPs. And it seems he might soon need to turn to the Queen to intervene, breaking a centuries-old tradition of a non-political monarchy.
Last week, MPs voted by a majority of 41 to approve a motion that blocks the suspension of Parliament to allow a no deal Brexit to happen by default.
While the vote isn’t legally binding, it makes it much harder for a Johnson Cabinet to allow a default no deal Brexit.
To solve this, he may have to turn to the 93-year-old Queen to make the final decision on whether or not Parliament can be suspended.
The monarchy, while Head of State, has no political or executive role – and the whole Royal Family tend to give any political matters a wide berth.
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But with the Brexit crisis reaching ever-ascending levels, some fear the Queen is on the brink of being forced to take a side in the debate.
Professor Alex De Ruyter, Director of Birmingham City University’s Centre for Brexit Studies, told Express.co.uk how any attempt on behalf of Mr Johnson to prorogue Parliament “has the potential to hugely politicise the role of the Queen”.
The reason is that if Mr Johnson wanted to prorogue, he’d need to ask the Queen as she’s the one who officially closes and reopens Parliament.
Traditionally, the Queen has only done this as a formality at the Prime Minister’s request.
Brexit crisis: Boris Johnson and the Queen
But under these circumstances, she would be left in a difficult position.
Mr De Ruyter said: “It is very difficult to see how she could accept a request to prorogue under such circumstances: the Prime Minister would need to have the confidence of the Commons for her to do it and the scale of the Government’s defeat in this amendment suggests that he almost certainly wouldn’t in such circumstances.
“It’s almost impossible to see the Queen attempting to override our elected Parliament, but ignoring the request of a sitting Prime Minister is problematic for her as well.”
So what might happen next?
Brexit crisis: The Queen opening Parliament in 2014
Mr De Ruyter said: “A realistic compromise might be for the monarch to ask the PM to demonstrate that he had the confidence of the Commons via a vote.”
Given the fact Parliament has already voted against the option of prorogation, it’s “likely that the Government would lose this,” said Mr De Ruyter.
“This would be followed either by a General Election or by frantic attempts to form some kind of alternative administration – perhaps on the basis of confidence and supply but this is all speculative at the moment.”
Meanwhile, it has been revealed some of Mr Johnson’s opponents also have plans to involve the Queen in their attempts to get around a no deal Brexit, which some fear would be disastrous for the UK.
The BBC learned a group of senior Tory rebels are plotting to ask the Queen to intervene before a no deal Brexit happens by default.
And the plan would see the Queen making the most drastic step of her almost 70-year reign, should it go ahead.
If passed, the ‘humble address’ would say if the new Prime Minister ignored a vote rejecting no deal the Queen would be asked to exercise her right as head of state.
This would see the 93-year-old monarch forced to travel to the next EU summit.
Under their plan, she would then request an extension to the Article 50 process.
While this could secure a future for Brexit negotiations, this could serve to be a major turning point in British history as no monarch has directly involved themselves in UK politics since 1707, when Queen Anne refused royal assent of a bill.
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While the Queen meets the PM regularly, she is bound by the convention to be entirely neutral in running the country.
So whether this ‘humble address’ would stand up is yet to be seen.
Robert Hazell, a professor of Government and the Constitution at University College London, told TIME magazine: “This idea that the Queen could be asked to go on a mission to some European summit is completely wacky.
“EU summits are heads of government meetings. They are not meetings of heads of state.
“The Queen of Denmark is not going to be there. The King of Sweden is not going to be there.
“The Queen would be a very, very odd one out if she attended as a representative of the British government.”