The power to extend Article 50 is either a prerogative power, or it is not.
(a) if it is a prerogative power, the Benn-Burt bill (a.k.a. the “Stop Brexit Bill”, which orders the Prime Minister to seek yet another Brexit extension) requires Queen’s Consent before it can become law;
(b) if it is not a prerogative power, the UK already left the EU on 29 March 2019. This is because in that case, the then Prime MinisterTheresa May would have lacked authority to extend Article 50. No relevant primary legislation was enacted or amended prior to that date to enable her to do so.
Your readers may be interested in reading this article which explains when the Queen’s Consent is required in detail. In the case of bills which affect the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, the Queen’s Consent (which is quite different from Royal Assent) is required, and it is either given, or not given, by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, at the Third Reading stage.
The Speaker has ruled (see here) that the Benn-Burt bill does not require the Queen’s Consent but he cannot have it both ways: either it does, in which case it requires Boris Johnson to advise the Queen to grant it, or it doesn’t, in which case the UK has left the EU already.
Respectfully, Tomaž Slivnik
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In theory the Queen could refuse to give assent to the Bill put up by remainers and such a move could be done not on the Queen’s initiative but on that of advice from her Prime Minister. The examples in the Guardian article below suggest this is not unknown in modern times. However, what appears to have happened in these examples of a refusal of assent appears to be a lever to amend Bills rather than cancel them altogether. In the case of the Bill being put forward by remainers to force Johnson (or any successor PM if he resigns or is forced out by a vote of confidence) it would not be a case of amending a Bill but of overthrowing it in its entirety, for the removal of the clause on asking for a three month delay would amount to that.
In addition any such overthrowing would be a very public act whereas the Guardian examples appear not to have been for they have been ferreted out by journalists. This public overthrowing might be a step too far for the Johnson.
The other reason why Johnson might baulk at asking the Queen not to give her assent is the fundamental importance of the Act. Forcing amendments to Bills such as the examples given by the Guardian pale into insignificance compared with Brexit, which is a matter of fundamental importance to the architecture of British politics. See this six-year old article in the Guardian for examples.
Respectfully, Robert Henderson
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It is astonishing that the remainer MPs in parliament claim to be acting democratically when:
- They ignore the referendum result which did not specify a conditional leaving and therefore is only satisfied by a so-called “no deal” which in practice means trading under WTO rules as we do already with much of the world.
- They want to subjugate us to rule by an undemocratic body over which we effectively have no say either in the short term(!) under the Merkel / May WA or forever if we don’t get a clean break.
Of course, they are supported by a significant number of voters who, at best, have failed to inform themselves of the way in which the EU is presently governed or where it is headed. Would they have welcomed rule by the Nazis since WW2 or would they have even been born if that had been the outcome of the previous war to keep our independence?
Respectfully, Jack Thomas
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PMs John Major and Gordon Brown have something in common, in that they both fought to keep the UK out of the flawed Eurozone. So isn’t it bizarre that, while all EU members are expected to join the Euro over the next few years, those PMs campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU? The so called opt out means little because Article 5(3) of the Lisbon Treaty says that the
“Union shall Act ……. if a proposed action CANNOT BE SUFFICIENTLY ACHIEVED BY MEMBER STATES…… Also Article 7 of Mrs May’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement Bill stipulates that “All references to Member States shall include the U.K.”
Since U.K. MEPs comprise only about 10% of the total and self amending Treaty Change is in place, you don’t have to be a lawyer to see the high risk of the UK being dragged into the Eurozone, despite the “opt out”. Since Monetary Union is not sustainable, without fiscal and political union, that is clearly where our EU rulers are headed. But while the dice are stacked heavily against us we can avoid the risk of being sucked in, by shredding Mrs May’s WAB trap and by defaulting to WTO rules – before the Eurozone sinks – avoiding financial bailout liabilities in the process. Why didn’t Major and Brown think of that, before they campaigned to remain in the EU?
Respectfully, Roger Arthur
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Richard Tweed’s idea (DT 07/09) of a £1bn bribe to Malta – in exchange for their rejection of another Article 50 extension for the U.K. – is interesting. Of course based on self amending treaty change, the E.U. could simply change the rules. So we might need to budget £1bn to each E.U. member, which would still total less than £39bn!
Respectfully, Mr King