A Constitutional Outrage? No, Not Really.

The suspension, or proroguing, of parliament by the Queen would never have been approved by her, if it violated the constitution, because her many advisers and lawyers would have cautioned against it. Moreover it is following precedent and practice appropriate to the formation of a new government at a time of year when it is expected. What is unusual is the length of the suspension, but that does not make it unconstitutional.

What this move certainly is, is politically very sharp. It is also well calculated and finely tuned. It has taken the opposition in all its diverse forms by total surprise and their rage is obvious. Suspending parliament at a time of national crisis is unthinkable they say. Perhaps if we were being invaded by Martians, or there were a great financial crash, or a pandemic. But not, so very not, if the crisis is entirely of parliament’s making. After over two years of argument and voter after vote after vote, parliament has shown itself utterly unable to resolve it.

There is now only one sane way forward. A No Deal isĀ  fraught with unacceptable risk. It is an act of self harm which even this government cannot rationally pursue, but such is the chaos that parliament has got itself into nobody seems able to stop it. If at the eleventh hour some deal is struck for an orderly Brexit, it will be there only because, while it would involve some political separation, it will keep us pretty closely tied to Europe. And that is nothing like such a good deal as staying in.

So the only course now open which makes any sense at all is to recall Article 50. Everything else sucks. If at this late date the opposition, all parties and every MP in its ranks not hell bent on a dive over the cliff, gets its act together and acts together, within not weeks or days, but hours of parliament reconvening next week, then something better might happen. On past form that is a very big if.


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