What do we pay the Queen for?

Gerald Holtham asks whether constitutional monarchy is a defunct idea.

Gerald Holtham is an IWA Trustee and Hodge Professor of Regional Economy at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

It is obvious that Parliament is deadlocked over Brexit.

A combination of the Party system and the control of the government over Parliamentary proceedings prevents it from being unblocked.

MPs can conceivably arrive at a consensus over a course of action; there seems to be a majority for a softer form of Brexit that maintains close economic ties to the EU. But the government is violently split and MPs cannot create a government to implement any such policy. Therefore an EU crash-out threatens.

Some people say that is what the referendum implied so people will deserve what they get. That, however, is an irresponsible attitude to an economic debacle that will hit nearly everyone. A general election would not necessarily solve the problem since it might well return a similar Parliament.

This is where a constitutional monarch is supposed to act, as George V did in 1931 when he encouraged Ramsay MacDonald to form a national government.

The Queen is supposed to send for Mrs May and ask her to form a cross-party national government in the public interest to enact the will of the majority in the House of Commons. If Mrs May declines, the Queen can try Mr Corbyn and failing him she can send for the Father of House, Mr Kenneth Clarke.  With luck such extreme measures are needed only once or twice a century but such an occasion is upon us now.

If the Queen cannot rise to playing her role in a constitutional crisis, it demonstrates that constitutional monarchy is a defunct idea.

The country then needs a President or Protector who can carry out the long-stop function in the constitution.


Photo courtesy of Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Flickr

All articles published on Click on Wales are subject to IWA’s disclaimer.


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