Tag Archives: Ian Birrell

Writing About Brexit: Did the Queen want to sack Boris Johnson?

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 30th September 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.Ian Birrell is a former David Cameron speechwriter. He’s now deputy-editor at the paper formerly known as The Independent.

Ian Birrell says, in today’s column in the i, that a “well-placed source” told him that before the Supreme Court’s verdict against the goverrment last week, “The Queen had, for the first time in her reign, sought advice on sacking a prime minister”.

There are two especially interesting things about this.

First, the Queen doesn’t publicly interfere in politics. Constitutionally, she can’t. When acting as Monarch, she does what the government of the day tells her. When the outgoing PM recommends the incoming PM to her as having “the confidence of the Commons”, she appoints him PM because that’s her function. When instructed by the PM to prorogue Parliament, she follows instructions, because, again, that’s her function. Any interference is strictly private and takes place at the weekly briefing the PM is required to give the Queen – an hour’s private access during which the PM is required to tell the Queen what’s really happening and the Queen – is not supposed to say anything, but anything she does say is strictly, absolutely, totally, completely confidential.

If the Queen really did contemplate interfering in politics to the extent of dismissing Boris Johnson as Prime Minister when she had not received a request to do so, that’s actually serious.
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