‘Golden triangle’ to protect the Queen
A "golden triangle" of advisers is working to protect Britain's Queen Elizabeth II amid a brewing constitutional crisis over Brexit.
Britain erupted into howls of protest, lawsuits and claims of "constitutional outrage" following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue parliament and seek a new Queen's speech for October 14 - just two weeks before the Brexit deadline.
Labour MP Kate Osamor tweeted "The. Queen. Did. Not. Save. Us." following the monarch's move to accept Mr Johnson's request.
"The Queen should look at what happened to her cousin Tino ex King of Greece when you enable a right wing coup!" she said on Twitter. "Monarchy abolished!"
It follows reports a "golden triangle" of advisers including the Queen's private secretary, Edward Young, Britain's cabinet secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill and the prime minister's principal private secretary, Peter Hill, have been working to ensure the 93-year-old monarch remains above the political fray.
The Queen's constitutional role means she oversees the appointment of new prime ministers but never takes political sides. However the prospect of a no-confidence vote in Mr Johnson and plots by pro-Remain MPs to form a caretaker government have led to fears the Queen may be forced to step in to appoint a leader.
"The royal household wants to manage this in a way that doesn't damage the ongoing, long-term position of the crown," a royal source recently told The Sunday Times.
Earlier this month, a royal source also told the newspaper the Queen had shown "disappointment in the current political class and its inability to govern correctly."
"She expressed her exasperation and frustration about the quality of our political leadership, and that frustration will only have grown," a source told The Sunday Times
On Thursday, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson quit her role following Mr Johnson's decision, citing the pressures of motherhood and conflict over Brexit.
A petition to stop the prorogation of parliament gained more than 1.4 million signatures and businesswoman Gina Miller filed a legal challenge to stop the "cynical and cowardly" plan. A separate legal challenge to Brexit is already working its way through the Scottish courts.
Protesters took to the streets around parliament on Wednesday, yelling "you shut down our parliament, we shut down the streets." Smaller rallies took place in other UK towns while 25 bishops released a letter detailing their fears of the "economic shocks" a no deal Brexit would bring.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Johnson's plan was a "smash and grab" on democracy and the UK leader wanted to run "headlong into the arms of Donald Trump."
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On Wednesday the Queen consented to opening a new session of parliament on October 14, ostensibly to reflect the new government's legislative agenda.
Mr Johnson claimed the decision to seek a new session is based on resetting the agenda to focus on health and crime and drawing the current lengthy session to a close.
However while this has precedent, the five-week suspension has seen critics blast the move as a cynical ploy to run down the clock against pro-Remain MPs who want to stop a no deal Brexit.
The Financial Times dubbed it "constitutional chicanery" in order to "thwart a parliament that he knows has a majority against his chosen policy."
Even members of Mr Johnson's own party blasted the decision, including MP Ken Clarke who said it was "outrageous", "unconstitutional" and "designed to frustrate Brexit."
Former Chancellor Philip Hammond said it was a "constitutional outrage".
Leader of Britain's House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg incensed critics on Thursday by claiming protesters were "phony".
"The candy floss of outrage we've had over the last 24 hours, which I think is almost entirely confected, is from people who never wanted to leave the European Union," he told BBC Radio 4's Today program.
There are just nine weeks left until Britain is due to exit the European Union on October 31, with no deal looking increasingly likely.
Mr Johnson has insisted the Irish backstop is removed from the Withdrawal Agreement previously negotiated with the EU by Theresa May's government. However EU leaders have claimed it must stay.
The EU's chief negotiator Michael Barnier said it was the "duty and responsibility" of the EU to protect the interests of its citizens and companies, in what was seen by some as a tacit acknowledgment of a no deal Brexit taking place.
MPs will return from their summer break on September 3, when Mr Johnson may face a no-confidence motion. The Queen has agreed to suspend parliament from September 9-12 and from September 14 will be party conference season, ensuring there will be limited time for MPs to formulate legislation to block a no deal exit.
Parliament will now convene on October 14 for the Queen's speech. On October 17-18 Mr Johnson will visit the European Council for final negotiations before the October 31 deadline.
- With wires