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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Queen Elizabeth is not amused at current lot of UK politicians

In July, Boris Johnson revealed soon after taking over as prime minister that during his meeting with the sovereign in Buckingham Palace, she reportedly asked him: “I don’t know why would anyone want the job (of prime minister)”.

world Updated: Aug 11, 2019 20:03 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II welcomes newly elected leader of the Conservative party, Boris Johnson during an audience in Buckingham Palace, London on July 24, 2019, where she invited him to become Prime Minister and form a new government.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II welcomes newly elected leader of the Conservative party, Boris Johnson during an audience in Buckingham Palace, London on July 24, 2019, where she invited him to become Prime Minister and form a new government.(AFP file photo)
         

Queen Elizabeth has a reputation of strictly adhering to the principle of neutrality during her long reign, but recent remarks attributed to her suggest that she is not exactly enamoured of the current lot of British politicians grappling with Brexit.

The Sunday Times reported that the queen, 93, privately expressed her disappointment in the political class’ “inability to govern correctly”. Her remarks were reportedly made at a private event soon after David Cameron resigned as prime minster after the 2016 EU referendum.

In July, Boris Johnson revealed soon after taking over as prime minister that during his meeting with the sovereign in Buckingham Palace, she reportedly asked him: “I don’t know why would anyone want the job (of prime minister)”.

The queen’s remarks in private are rarely reported and the palace never responds to queries about them, but a royal source described as ‘impeccable’ by the Sunday paper said: “She expressed her exasperation and frustration about the quality of our political leadership, and that frustration will only have grown.”

The queen’s reported ennui with the political class is shared by large sections of the British public frustrated at the continuing deliberations and moves in Westminster over Brexit, over three years after the referendum to leave the European Union.

Parliament is in recess, but Brexit continues to dominate headlines with Prime Minister Johnson, his team and rivals as busy as ever, preparing for the day (October 31) amid renewed talk of a mid-term poll and moves in parliament to thwart the prospect of leaving without an agreement.

Also read | Elon Musk compares Queen Elizabeth II with Teletubbies

Johnson has been making policy announcements tied with large sums of money almost every day, similar to pre-election declarations. Labour insists that it is ready for an election, while experts believe that the current impasse is more likely to lead to a ‘government of national unity’ in the near future.

The Johnson government, which has a majority of one in the House of Commons, is likely to face a no-confidence vote soon after the House of Commons convenes in early September.

On Sunday, former prime minister Gordon Brown surfaced in The Observer to insist that Johnson’s approach to Brexit (read ‘a no-deal Brexit’) will mean a ‘disunited’ kingdom, since it will loosen the ties that hold together England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Noting the separatist impulses in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Brown writes that the UK now is “at best, a precariously united kingdom”, adding that unionism is “sleepwalking into oblivion”, fuelled by a “destructive, populist, nationalist ideology” deployed by Johnson.

He wrote: “If we are to understand why we are facing not only our most serious constitutional crisis since the 17th century but at the same time an unprecedented economic calamity precipitated by a no-deal exit from the European Union, we must recognise that nationalism is now driving British politics.”

“It follows that only thus – as an outward-looking, tolerant, fair-minded and pragmatic people – can Britain recover its cohesion and common purpose. These precious ideals could not survive the divisiveness and chaos of a no-deal Brexit. To prevent the rise and rise of dysfunctional nationalism the first step is to stop no-deal in its tracks,” he wrote.

First Published: Aug 11, 2019 20:01 IST

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