Fears Boris Johnson could drag the QUEEN into his battle to stay PM in People v Parliament 'nuclear option' | The Sun
THE Queen could be dragged into Boris Johnson's bid to remain Prime Minister – as his premiership teeters on a knife edge today.
Mr Johnson is clinging to power by his fingernails after resignations in his Government hit 50, with five ministers quitting this morning alone.
He is so far ignoring calls for him to go, with a key ally warning: “If the party wants to overthrow the elected will of the people, they have to dip their hands in blood.”
Now some Tories fear he could drag Her Majesty into his battle in a last-ditch "nuclear option".
Few options are remaining to the PM in the days to come – although it's now understood he will quit today as senior Tories prepare their leadership bids.
However, if he stays on and faces a vote of no confidence again, he could try to dissolve Parliament by calling an election.
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The Queen must give her permission for an election to take place, and she has the power to refuse such a request if it breaches certain constitutional conventions.
Mr Johnson yesterday dodged a question on whether he needed Her Majesty's permission to call a vote, replying only that Brits don't want “politicians to be engaged in electioneering now or in the future”.
The monarch has never been put in a position where she needed to consider turning down a snap election. A request from Mr Johnson would be hugely awkward for Buckingham Palace.
One rebel backbencher told the Telegraph: “I could easily see the Palace would be in its absolute right to say: you’ve had two elections, your party can command a majority in the House of Commons, so you’re not going to have a general election.
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“You make it work under your leadership or find a new one but I’m not dissolving Parliament at a great time of national uncertainty.”
And ex civil service chief Gus O'Donnell told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the Queen will "refuse" any request Mr Johnson may make for an election – because the Tories hold such a huge majority.
The monarch is also the only person who can make a decision to sack Mr Johnson if any vote against him failed.
However, it's highly unlikely she would. As Head of State, she must appear politically neutral, and shouldn't exercise such powers unless in extreme circumstances.
The last time a British monarch sacked a PM was in 1834.
It comes as:
- Five more ministers have quit this morning as resignations hit 50
- It means Mr Johnson has suffered more resignations than any Prime Minister in 90 years
- The Sun says Boris should go with dignity if he can't deliver for our readers
- But the PM has insisted he will not stand down as he has the backing of Brits
- The chaos began this week when Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid quit their posts – triggering a tsunami of similar decisions
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson also has a duty to ensure that the Queen is not “drawn into party politics” by a demand from No 10.
George Freeman, who announced he was resigning as science minister on Thursday morning, said the PM must apologise.
He tweeted: "Boris Johnson needs to hand in the seals of office, apologise to Her Majesty and advise her to call for a caretaker prime minister to take over today so that ministers can get back to work and we can choose a new Conservative leader to try and repair the damage and rebuild trust."
Despite the unlikelihood that Her Majesty would get involved in the political storm, the break-down of her Government is likely to be causing concern.
Mr Johnson believes his 80-seat majority in 2019 gives him a mandate from the people, not his party.
But he is facing one of the biggest rebellions in British political history.
One MP told the Sun the PM has “lost his mind”, adding: “It’s like he is burning the house down on his way out.”
After he sacked long-standing minister Michael Gove, a senior Tory said: “He's lost it.
"He's become like Caligula — the Roman emperor who wanted to make a horse a consul. Michael was one of the best ministers in the Cabinet.”
The mass resignation of ministers, along with a string of parliamentary aides, came after Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid quit their posts on Tuesday evening.
What are the rules for a snap election?
If Boris Johnson calls a snap election, he must go to the Queen for permission.
But the Queen, if asked to dissolve Parliament, may well object.
If she does decide to object, it could be based on an incident from 1950, when King George VI's private secretary Sir Alan Lascelles laid out three conditions under which a monarch could refuse to grant a request for an election.
- That the existing Parliament is still vital, viable and capable of doing its job
- That a general election would be detrimental to the national economy
- That the sovereign could rely on finding another prime minister who could govern for a reasonable period
If Mr Johnson asks for an election, the Queen may well decide his request is based on a personal leadership crisis, rather than a national crisis.
A snap election may also have an impact on the economy, and there's likely a majority in the Commons for another Tory PM.
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