David Howarth, now a Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, was responding to widespread reports suggesting Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s newly appointed special adviser, had told ministers it was now too late for Parliament to prevent Britain leaving the EU at the end of October. Mr Cummings’ reasoning, set out in a story in The Sunday Telegraph, was that even if MPs were to pass a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson, any resultant general election would be delayed until after October 31, the day the UK is set to leave the bloc.
Parliamentary rules stipulate that, even if Mr Johnson were to lose such a vote, he would remain Prime Minister until he resigns – which Mr Cummings has suggested is highly unlikely – or was dismissed.
Writing on the Democratic Audit website, Mr Howarth, who served one term as MP for Cambridge between 2005 and 2010, suggested in the absence of Mr Johnson’s resignation after a no confidence defeat, Her Majesty could dismiss him.
Mr Howarth wrote: “Admittedly, no monarch has exercised this power since 19834, and it was a bit of a disaster then, and the Queen was almost certainly not exercise it if there was any chance that an incoming Prime Minister would fail to command the confidence of the House.”
Nevertheless, he suggested it might be possibly to make use of an arcane Parliamentary procedure known as Standing Order 24, which would enable Speaker John Bercow, “on application from an MP”, to move an emergency motion which could be amended to include a recommendation about who should become Prime Minister.
Mr Howarth wrote: “As a result, the Queen might install a new Prime Minister.
“That Prime Minister might decide not to ask the Commons for its confidence and so allow the 2011 Act to run its course.
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Even if the outlandish plan were to succeed of course, it would require Parliament to coalesce around a suitable compromise candidate, Mr Howarth acknowledged.
He said: “Politically that might be difficult.
“Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to command wide enough support but choosing someone else – some have mentioned Hilary Benn or Yvette Cooper, but others are possible, including Ken Clarke and Caroline Lucas – requires the current party system to be dismantled.”
Pro-Brexit Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski was scornful of the arguments put forward by Mr Howarth.
He told Express.co.uk: “These really are desperate measures by desperate people.
“He typifies and very clearly articulates the sheer determination to obstruct not only Brexit but the will of the people.