Opinion

KASSAM: The Queen Just Saved Brexit By Neutralizing Parliament

(Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Raheem Kassam Contributor

She’s not “just a figurehead.”

Her Majesty The Queen is Britain’s final constitutional backstop. On Aug. 28, she acted in the interest of the majority of people in Britain. She approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s request to suspend Parliament from early September to mid-October.

The move paves the way for Johnson to follow through on Brexit. The British people voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, but Parliament has sought to thwart the people’s will for the last three years.

Parliament has of course done itself no favors as of late: originally voting in favor of the referendum itself, voting for Article 50 — which notified the EU of the result and intent to leave — voting for the Withdrawal Act, which set leaving in motion, but then rejecting a deal with the EU three times.

The last time Parliament blocked the United Kingdom from leaving with “no deal” (that is, without kowtowing to the EU’s demands), the deciding vote was cast by an anti-Brexit member of Parliament who had just been convicted of lying to the police.

In the parlance of the HBO series “Succession,” the Brexit process had become a “s**t show in a f**k factory,” almost entirely because of Parliament.

Now the queen has allowed Johnson’s administration to “prorogue” Parliament if it wishes. This means the rump of anti-democratic members who have been stalling the process may not sit between Sept. 9 and Oct. 14, and will likely not have enough time to stop a “no deal” Brexit — or even to call a motion of “no confidence” in the prime minister — again.

If this happens, Britain leaves without a deal on Oct. 31.

Such authority is historically sound.

A.V. Dicey wrote in ‘The Law of the Constitution’ (1885): “The House can in accordance with the constitution be deprived of power [when] there is fair reason to suppose that the opinion of the House is not the opinion of the electors.”

Edmund Burke noted: “The virtue, spirit, and essence of an House of Commons consists in its being the express image of the feelings of the nation. It was not instituted to be a controul upon the people, as of late it has been taught, by a doctrine of the most pernicious tendency. It was designed as a controul for the people.”

Parliament has now repeatedly failed to act as a control for the people.

DEAL OR NO DEAL

It has also been the most spoken phrase in Westminster and beyond for the past three years.

When Britain voted to leave, the referendum question didn’t ask what kind of leaving we would prefer. In the same way you don’t ask you house guests whether they’d like to exit through the back door, the first floor window, or through a series of underground tunnels after you host them for dinner. For Britons, the front door was always the obvious option.

But both Parliament and the European Union kept trying to close that front door for fear of emboldening other nations to leave. For a while it looked like we were going to have to scramble up the chimney, covered in the soot of Theresa May’s half-Brexit withdrawal agreement.

And while No Deal is “clean” insofar as it cuts the Gordian knot, it also means a lot of international deals over things like access to skies, trade, regulation, environmental protections and more will need to be dealt with quickly, and with much common sense.

The European Union knows our regulatory regime. The European Union deals with nations across the world which don’t necessarily live up to their own standards. And yet anti-Brexiteers have been pretending the sky would fall and the food would run out in a post-hard Brexit scenario. This is scaremongery at its finest.

IRELAND

Even the famed “Irish backstop,” which U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to leverage as a reason to oppose a new U.K.-U.S. trade deal, is a grossly overstated problem.

While Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for certain have their unique border problems — including a seemingly mildly resurgent religious strife between the two nations — most of the trade going between the two countries operates in a similar way to the U.S. and Canada. Along predictable places of entry, and with agreeable standards between the two.

The idea that a slightly altered trading situation would lead to a full-on return of “The Troubles” is expressed only by those who would like to see Brexit fail: globalists.

The U.K.’s constitution is pretty clear for those who care to understand it, about just about everything to do with the balance of powers between our branches of government.

There is significant overlap between the branches, which is something Americans are not particularly used to.

But Sir William Blackstone – who was a source for many of America’s founders on the subject of common law — was clear about the need to keep Parliament in check if they refused to represent the will of the people.

The queen’s intervention takes Brexit one step closer to a reality on Oct. 31. Of course, there will be complaints by pipsqueak Speaker of the Commons John Bercow, and there will likely be court challenges.

It isn’t clear whether Johnson has the brass tacks to carry out such a prorogation, or whether this is simply a negotiating tactic for him. Something to keep in the back pocket in case Parliament tries for a vote of no confidence in him.

Still, that’s an incredible risk to take, given the constitutional concerns raised as a result of Her Majesty’s intervention. It’s a risk that Boris and the Conservative Party can’t afford to take and then not deliver Brexit. The country — left and right alike — would loathe them for marching us up to the top of the hill, and then marching down again.

Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) is a Claremont Institute fellow. He is the author of two bestselling books: “No Go Zones” and “Enoch Was Right.”


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller