Johnson to implicate the Queen in electoral shenanigans

Admittedly honesty is far from Johnson’s forte. Accordingly, I should not be so surprised that Johnson can simultaneously cry out for an imminent election and prorogue parliament for a Queen’s speech and new legislative session. 

Quite simply, it is not the function of the Queen to present an electioneering address on behalf of the Conservative Party. Having already abused the function of the Queen by illegally advising her on an overlong prorogation, Johnson is merely running true to form in forcing the Head of State to front an election pitch.

We have to make it clear that this is wholly unacceptable and that if he is intent on prorogation, he cannot concurrently expect an election in the near term.  Parliamentary sessions are seldom shorter 150 days, the shortest session in recent times was 65 days.  If the Queen’s speech is not voted down, we must insist there should be a reasonable period, perhaps six months, during which the government should try to work through its programme. We would press for a referendum on whatever it is Johnson has to offer within this period.

The ‘if’ in “if the Queen’s speech is not voted down” could be quite loaded: it may well be that Johnson fully intends that the Queen’s speech be rejected by parliament, and that, in effect, he seeks to manipulate the Queen’s speech to become a no confidence vote against himself. This could be how he plans to escape signing a letter to request another Article 50 extension.

The outcome of a rejected Queen’s speech is uncertain. When this happened in 1924 a minority Labour government took over from Baldwin’s Conservatives. Corbyn might attempt the same but is likely to become unstuck. He has neither the capability nor will to manage a wide spectrum of opposition to Brexit; moreover, he cannot even commit himself to campaigning to remain in a referendum that he has instigated. What would follow is without precedent, I do not think the Fixed Term Parliament Act has provision for a rejected Queen’s speech. Johnson would be banking that this would precipitate an election, in which he would attempt to pose as victim, insurgent, tabloid hero and champion of what he would claim is ‘the will of the people’.

The opposition needs to be strategic and anticipate dissembling, we do not have to let him get away with shabby stunts that we know are of his nature.

* Martin Bennett first campaigned in Cheltenham in 1974, was the Bermondsey Party press officer from 1981-3 but is presently resident in Luxembourg. He is Deputy Chair of Liberal Democrats Luxembourg.

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13 Comments

  • Richard Underhill. 8th Oct '19 - 11:27am

    Martin Bennett | Tue 8th October 2019 – 11:17 am
    Is it possible for an MP (or a peer) to move an amendment to the Queen’s Speech and vote on the amendment?
    If so, would a decision in favour of an amendment be considered as a vote of no confidence in the current government?

  • nigel hunter 8th Oct '19 - 11:53am

    Johnson will do his best to get his Brexit over the line and blame anybody but himself if it goes pear shape ,with the support of the right wing press.
    The remain vote has risen since 2017 but does not seem to be well published (I know the right wing press will not want to know). IT IS TIME IT WAS!

  • I have a hunch, that Johnson will offer a Queen’s Speech impossible for the opposition to digest, in hope to get a Vote of No Confidence, so that he doesn’t have to send the letter asking for extension to EU, and he can blame the opposition of preventing him to deliver the Brexit he promised.

    Maybe the opposition should abstain the Vote of Confidence, or perhaps only the leaders of the opposition parties could vote against it and register their disagreement, while the other MPs would abstain?

  • David Allen 8th Oct '19 - 3:36pm

    This is complicated. All PMs put forward an autumn Queen’s Speech. Some PMs call an election (easily before FTPA, with more difficulty now) shortly after the Queen’s Speech, as they are entitled to do. In such cases the PM may be well aware that the Queen’s Speech is an openign shot in an elction campaign. Johnson is (just for once!) not doing anything intrinsically shabby, abnormal or dishonest by putting forward a Queen’s Speech. To charge him with dishonesty would tend to encourge the view that “those Opposition politicians just say that every time”, and would detract from the very genuine allegations of misdeeds we are entitled to make.

    But – Of course there is an obvious pitfall. Normally a majority government can get a Queen’s Speech approved. This minority government may not. Preventing Government from governing could lead us quickly towards a VONC and an election on Johnson’s terms.

    The simple answer, I suggest, is for the Opposition parties to abstain on the Queen’s Speech. When we use VONC – which we should – we want to be in control of the process.

  • John Marriott 8th Oct '19 - 4:14pm

    Is the GNU now an extinct species? Do we really want a General Election under FPTP, which could easily deliver Johnson a majority? What ARE the opposition parties doing? The latest exchange coming out of Brussels makes me cringe. It’s all “in the toilet”, hey? We all know whose hands are all over that communiqué, don’t we? Come on, folks, now really is the time to stand up and be counted before it really is too late!

  • David Allen 8th Oct '19 - 5:09pm

    John Marriott – Where’s LDV’s “Like” button, when it’s (desperately) needed?

  • David Allen 8th Oct '19 - 5:43pm

    Martin,

    Sorry, I can’t quickly find a definitive answer to your question. Your linked data only goes back to 1979, and as the author states, since 1979 all general elections have ben held between April and June. However, between 1945 and 1979 there were 3 GEs in February / March and 4 GEs in October: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_Kingdom_general_elections . Those latter GEs may or may not have been held after very short sessions, I haven’t quickly been able to find out.

    What I suppose I was thinking was that, until FTPA, there was the general assumption that a PM could call a snap election pretty much whenever he/she wanted to, other than high summer or Christmas. And, that the PM wouldn’t be debarred from calling such a snap election just because there had only just been a Queen’s Speech.

    Wouldn’t that be, generally, the presumption that voters would make? Because if so, a charge that this is a peculiarly dastardly shenanigan by Johnson is liable to fall rather flat.

  • @ Martin “The outcome of a rejected Queen’s speech is uncertain. When this happened in 1924 a minority Labour government took over from Baldwin’s Conservatives”.

    I’m afraid the Queen’s speech wasn’t rejected in January, 1924 ….. although the King’s speech was.

    It was the occasion when H.H. Asquith permitted Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Party to form a minority government …… something which scared a significant number of ‘respectable’ middle class voters into abandoning their support of the Liberal Party.
    There is a curiously modern ring about it given the current Tory tabloid press campaign to demonise Mr. Corbyn.

  • Boiling down to a choice for the Lib Dems between :

    Bad PM Boris Johnson, for a few more weeks and a no deal Brexit on Oct 31 followed by an election.

    or alternatively…

    Bad caretaker PM Corbyn, for a few weeks, an extension followed by an election.

    Tough choice huh?

    It really shouldn’t be to any party claiming it’s “fighting to stop Brexit” .

  • Things seemingly change from day to day: now a legally binding Referendum is back on the scene and with the big march on the 19th could be even more important.

  • John Marriott 9th Oct '19 - 5:40pm

    It could be interesting on the 19th if the Environmentalists are still around. It might be a case of Remain meets Extinction on the streets of the capital.

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