Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Much as I disapprove of monarchal systems, I think the Queen is probably blameless in this instance. She is bound by "convention" and is the servant of the PM, however much conventional wisdom would have it otherwise.

That said, if there is to be a second referendum on Brexit, they may as well include a referendum on abolishing the Lords while they are at it. A truly useless institution. At least the Royal family sell papers and bring in some tourism.

As for the constitution, don't get me started. Something seems to be unconstitutional until it isn't. Convention being set by precedent simply means you have to set new precedents to break old conventions. Boris seems to be able to do more or less as he wants, despite never having been elected by parliament in the first place.

And has there ever been a more spineless set of parliamentarians? There own self-preservation and a dislike of Corbyn seems to be the only things that can motivate them. They make the Weimar Republic look good.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 28th, 2019 at 03:30:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't get what is "unconstitutional" about this. It's clearly allowed by the standard process, he's a new PM, the Queen went along immediately. Just because Parliament can't get its act together doesn't mean anything.


by asdf on Wed Aug 28th, 2019 at 04:56:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has called the suspension a "constitutional outrage" designed to prevent MPs from debating Brexit.

From BBC

Because apparently MPs have not been debating Brexit up to now.

by asdf on Wed Aug 28th, 2019 at 05:04:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's unconstitutional in intent. Proroguing Parliament for five weeks so it can't find its own solution to the most pressing problem of the day is very different to shutting it down for a week or so between working sessions.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 28th, 2019 at 05:09:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's so annoying is that he is showing up all the opposition loud mouths for the spineless wonders that they are. They're afraid to provoke an election because independents and small parties like ChangeUK have almost no chance in the FPTP system, and Boris knows this.

It's "conventional" to prorogue parliament for a few days between sessions or after an election to allow a new government to set out its stall. I don't think it has ever been prorogued for 5 weeks in the middle of the biggest crisis in a generation or two. But without a written constitution which lays down the rules for this, Boris' action may just become a new norm.

The government can be voted down after a debate on the Queen's speech and this is generally held to be "the equivalent" of a vote of no confidence as it is a vote against an entire government programme. But is "equivalent to" a VOTC the same as a VOTC within the meaning of the the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011? Probably not, but who knows. Without precedents there are no conventions to apply.

A lot of what is happening is unprecedented and so what is constitutional is what Boris says it is... People may whinge and whine, but the courts are unlikely to intervene unless there is a clear breach of a statutory provision which are more notable for their absence.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 28th, 2019 at 05:47:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you know about a million times more about this than I do, but my simplistic look at Wikipedia suggests the opposite: prorogation has been used specifically in cases of big political policy crises. This case sounds very much like the other cases listed.

Controversial prorogations

by asdf on Wed Aug 28th, 2019 at 05:53:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Four precedents are cited - 1628, 1831, 1948, and 1997, which gives you some idea of how rare this is. The first appears to have been an attempt by the King to limit the power of Parliament. The second was specifically at the request of the government to enable a general election to be held. The third an attempt by the government to reduce the power of the House of Lords, and the fourth was followed by a general election and a change of government.

What makes the current crisis unique is that it appears to be an attempt to reduce the power of the House of Commons relative to the Executive and specifically an attempt to frustrate the will of the House up to and including the holding of a VONC which could lead to a change of government or a general election or both. The UK is traditionally described as a Parliamentary democracy where the Parliament is sovereign. If this is allowed to go unchallenged, the UK will effectively become a Presidential system where the President doesn't even have to be elected.

It's as if Trump could become President of the USA once he had secured the Republican nomination because they controlled Congress at the time. No general Presidential election or ongoing Parliamentary oversight necessary. Parliament is reduced to a ceremonial adornment for set pieces like the Queen's speech while the real action on Brexit takes place elsewhere, or in this case, the inaction of a no deal Brexit.

It hardly looks like the prorogation of Parliament is going to make the EU any more disposed to giving Boris a deal it wouldn't give Theresa May. Now the EU can go all virtuous by saying it doesn't deal with despots who shut down their own Parliaments at crucial times...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 28th, 2019 at 06:35:36 PM EST
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