Brexit and the monarch

Brexit happened as it did because the politicians managed it remarkably ineptly. I believe a constitutional monarch could have intervened quite properly in various ways. I have written before about the need for the monarch to have the power to safeguard the constitution and Brexit was certainly a change in our constitution.

The Brexit Referendum was a mess

The politicians had not thought through the question beforehand and a monarch with the powers I have suggested could have asked ‘what if’ and similar questions, such as:

  • Would a simple majority suffice or should we require a majority of 66% for such a constitutional change, as is often the case in other countries?
  • Should a minimum turnout be required as applies to trades unions strike ballots?
  • What if different parts of the country returned very different results?
  • The politicians did not consider the problem of Northern Ireland, which remains unresolved.

The monarch could also have ensured the referendum asked the right questions.  A binary, ‘in’ or ‘out’, question did not allow for people to express views such as a desire to remain close to the EU in a free trade area or to have a total break with no future relationship with the EU.

The Brexit negotiations were a mess

The monarch could have asked how the politicians would deal with a Leave vote.

  • What would be the process and the timescale?
  • Was the referendum itself enough or did parliament have to ratify it?
  • Who was to negotiate with the EU? In the event, the EU had to negotiate with the Conservatives only: the opposition parties and the regional governments did not take part.
  • Who decided on the Red Lines?

Brexit’s aftermath was a mess

The years of inconclusive negotiations and parliamentary deadlock did not do us any good. I believe the failings I mentioned above caused these problems. Even then, a monarch with relevant powers might have helped. Perhaps he could have called a general election or a second referendum.

Was not Brexit unprecedented?

To some extent. However, one of the reasons for the failings of the Commonwealth that followed the execution of King Chares I was that the Roundheads had not thought through what they would do if they had to govern without a king. A lot of them had assumed they would achieve a compromise, but the king would not accept one. Perhaps I should set my next novel in that period, as Blood and Secrets does not take you to the end of the Civil War, only to the Battle of Newbury. The powers of British monarchs have been declining ever since, but I think it’s time to give them some more.

The cover of Blood and Secrets. Like Brexit, the Civil War lacked clear objectives.

Like Brexit, the Civil War lacked clear objectives.