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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Constitutional crisis or hubris?

Yesterday's Queen's Speech was notable not just for the Queen's Euro hat but for the fact that it is still uncertain whether the Prime Minister can command a majority to get it through the House of Commons.

The chances are that the DUP will vote for the speech because to do otherwise will remove their bargaining power. It seems to me that Arlene Foster's party views these talks more like a form of Chinese water torture rather than the better defined process Theresa May had hoped for. If that is the case then we could be in for a prolonged period of suffering on the part of the Conservative Government.

Of course what happens to the Government's programme after the Queen's speech is passed and the DUP finally get on board is a moot point. A confidence and supply deal may not be enough to get many of these bills through in the form envisaged by the Prime Minister.

That is evident from the article in yesterday's Telegraph, which reports that Theresa May is facing a constitutional crisis after Labour and the Liberal Democrats threatened to use the House of Lords to water down Brexit.

Some might say that this is a just punishment for a Tory Party who failed to reform the House of Lords when Nick Clegg gave them the opportunity, and who threw away their majority just a few weeks ago. I am not going to demur from that judgement.

The question I would pose is whether this is a constitutional crisis at all. After all no one party has a majority or a mandate, so all the usual conventions do not apply. In these circumstances this is exactly how our antiquated constitution is meant to work.

Time for reform. Yes, please. But why wasn't that reform in the Queen's speech, The answer lies in Theresa May's hubris in thinking she can carry on with business as usual, instead of building a consensus for her policies, following a very personal rejection of her and her party at the General Election.
One leading Conservative is happy to play hard-ball: http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2017/06/22/the-dup-no-deal-is-better-than-a-bad-deal/.
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