The announcement this morning that Boris Johnson is to deliver a Queen’s Speech and that this requires the prorogation of Parliament should come as no surprise to anyone. It is a perfectly obvious and constitutionally respectable move by the Prime Minister. Mr Johnson is acting within the boundaries of constitutional and Parliamentary proprieties. Staging a Queen’s Speech, with the inevitable prorogation, is not a particularly brilliant political stratagem or great constitutional outrage. What it is a practical and predictable manoeuvre from a Prime Minister who is confident about using the all the powers and options that are available to him. Predictably, of course, the announcement has provoked a great deal of outrage. Take a step back however and let’s see if this vast explosion of indignation is merited.
Boris Johnson is a new Prime Minister and he has formed a new government. It is not a Theresa May continuation government, merely reshuffled and repackaged with a better sales person fronting the operation. Upon entering No 10 Mr Johnson did not simply reinvigorate Mrs May’s tired administration. What he did was to form, as requested and required to do so by the Monarch, a new government. Whenever a new Prime Minister comes to office they always hold a Queen’s Speech to set out what their new government intends to do. This is a perfectly normal and entirely reasonable thing for Mr Johnson to do. Indeed we should expect him to do it as quickly as possible because we should want him to bring before Parliament his plans, aims and ambitions for the country – he more so given that he has arrived in No 10 without fighting a General Election.
This House of Commons has had three years to sort out an approach it liked to Brexit. Instead it chose to consistently frustrate Mrs May’s plan, the Withdrawal Agreement, without providing any credible alternative itself. Members of Parliament have had plenty of opportunities to work within and between parties, groups and factions to sort out alternative approaches. Time was on the side of all those who served in government and those who did not to sort things out to their satisfaction, but they did not or could not. It ill behoves now Ministers who served in Mrs May’s government to complain about her approach or red-lines. If you served you supported her – no matter how many journalists ears you whispered into over the period saying the opposite. After years of endless complaints and failure to sort out an alternative no Member of Parliament can reasonably claim to not having had enough time to sort Brexit out. What there has been is a complete failure of political skill by those who oppose Brexit to fashion an effective opposition.
Emotion is no substitute for effectiveness, incredulity no match for persuasiveness. So far the Prime Minister has proved adept and adroit at charting his course. His opponents much less so.