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Will Parliament Take Back Control Of Brexit?

B.A. Political Science, Member of®

For centuries, the supreme legal authority in the United Kingdom is Parliament. As a result, Parliament can make new legislations and end laws. Legislative supremacy is essential in a liberal democracy because only people`s representatives legitimize the government in power through the confidence of the House. Nowadays, the prime minister does not take into account the fact that MPs do not want a No Deal Brexit at all. As well, there are some rumours the prime minister could ignore a vote of no confidence to make sure Brexit happens. Besides, Theresa May did not implement indicative votes coming from Parliament while in power. Still, there is no common ground among MPs on Brexit except the fact that they do not want a No Deal Brexit. Nowadays, Boris Johnson simply ignores Parliament by leading the U.K. to a No Deal Brexit. Consequently, members of Parliament are trying get united in order to stop a No Deal Brexit on October 31st. There will be several parliamentary tactics to stop a No Deal Brexit.

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                To begin with, the Johnson government gets Britain ready to leave the European Union without any deal. Nevertheless, most members of Parliament are strongly opposed to a No Deal Brexit because this could cause a social and economic chaos. Besides, Northern Ireland and Scotland really want to remain part of the European Union. Still, the Johnson government ignores the will of Parliament and takes advantage that MPs are deeply divided over the Brexit issue. For that reason, MPs need to find common ground to settle Brexit and get Parliament be heard by the government. There are several ways MPs could prevent Britain and Northern Ireland from crashing out the E.U.

                For instance, MPs could defeat the government with a no confidence. As a result, the House of Commons will have 14 days to find an alternative of the current government. Constitutional expert, Professor Meg Russell from University College London, told Sky News the Fixed Term Parliaments Act is unclear about what would be the alternatives to the current government. Therefore, Meg Russell argued that MPs will ¨have to express their view very clearly to the Queen.¨ Therefore, the monarch will have to make a decision on any parliamentary request. Nevertheless, an alternative could be a government of national unity made up of MPs from all major parties such as: Labour, Liberal Democrats, and some Tories against the No Deal Brexit. Therefore, opposition parties could ask the Queen to form a coalition government invoking a national emergency of a no deal Brexit. Accordingly, Queen Elizabeth II could either ask opposition parties to form a government or trigger a general election. The prime minister is likely to advise Her Majesty to trigger elections rather than handing out power to the opposition. By convention, the Queen acts on the advice of her prime minister.

                Besides, there is a very little chance that a government of national unity be created according to some experts. For instance, King`s College Professor Vernon Bodganor told BBC in August: ¨The chance of a government of national unity was very small because it would mean Labour agreeing to serve someone other than their elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn now certainly the Korbinites wouldn`t have that and perhaps some other Labour MPs wouldn`t have it either.¨ Therefore, a coalition government could only be created if some MPs agree to be ruled by a leader which has different political convictions.

                Consequently, some MPs fear that Johnson triggers a general election and makes sure that Election Day takes place after the Brexit deadline. In this case, the U.K. would leave the European Union by default. Moreover, some senior Tories fear that the prime minister ignores a parliamentary vote rejecting a No Deal Brexit. For that reason, BBC reveals that senior Tories want that the monarch intervenes directly in the process of Brexit. Nicholas Watt from BBC News reveals in July 2019 that some MPs think that Parliament could vote for a humble address which is when ¨You [Parliament] would ask humbly that Her Majesty requests an extension to Article 50. If that went through that would be seen as an instruction to her first minister.¨ However, the prime minister could refuse to enact the humble address and Parliament would have no choice to appeal to the sovereign to go to Brussels and request an extension of the Brexit deadline. Nevertheless, this would be surprising the Queen intervenes so directly in politics and this strategy might just be to put pressure on the prime minister.

                Finally, there is a deadlock in British politics which prevents the U.K. from making any smart choice about Brexit. This situation is uncharted territory in British democracy because the legislature branch and the executive branch are not on the same page when national interest demands it. The solution to Brexit lies in the unity of Parliament because the Government has decided to act alone without being guided by the national legislature. As a result, MPs must find unity and act together in the interest of the nation. Three years have passed since the Brexit referendum and there has been very little development, except the prospect of a No Deal Brexit. MPs have to either make a government of unity to stop Johnson`s No Deal or make legislations to force government to get a deal. However, this is very likely Boris Johnson will trigger elections to maximize the Conservative share of the Leave vote. There are some rumours in London that elections be held after the Brexit deadline. In view of that, MPs must get united and act quickly to be heard. Parliament is the cradle of British democracy and it has to make sure the will of the people is followed by the government. Thus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson should act accordingly rather than based on personal political ideals.

August 22, 2019

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Yannick B. Vallée
By Yannick B. Vallee

Yannick B. Vallee is a political scientist who recently graduated from Bishop’s University (Quebec, Canada) in the BA program of political science. He also has a college degree of Business Administration with a specialization in marketing. Nowadays,  he specializes in American, Canadian... (Read next)

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