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In theory, only the Queen can prorogue Parliament:

The Queen formally prorogues Parliament on the advice of the Privy Council. https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/occasions/prorogation/

Based on the answers to Can the Prime Minister prorogue Parliament?, my understanding is that, in practice, the power is held by the government and the PM's "advice" is actually mandatory and they can prorogue Parliament whenever they want.

But, what would be involved in overruling the Queen? If, the Queen refused to consent, could the PM just ignore her? Or would Parliament have to pass a law overruling her or stripping the Queen of that power?

I ask because brexiteer PM candidate Dominic Raab has proposed proroguing Parliament to prevent them from stopping a no-deal Brexit. If he believes that he can't get the votes to enable a no-deal Brexit through normal means, it seems unlikely he could get the votes to modify the Queen's power to accomplish the same thing.

  • Fortunately the Speaker can also block this. Raab is on some kind of kamikaze mission here - once the new session of Parliament starts the deal with the DUP will be over, he will have a minority government and they aren't going to sign up with him again. So it's hard to judge his plan on any realistic basis, since it is so unrealistic. – user Jun 7 at 9:56
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    @user "the Speaker can also block this": I don't believe that either he, nor Parliament, has any legal power to stop a prorogation - other than via political pressure (or maybe petitioning the Queen to refuse, though that comes with its own problems). He has clearly stated his opposition to the idea, but on its own, that's not enough. – Steve Melnikoff Jun 7 at 11:36
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my understanding is that, in practice, the power is held by the government and the PM's "advice" is actually mandatory

That's true, with one crucial caveat: if the Queen is required to, say, sign a document in order for that document to have legal effect, then she must actually sign that document.

If the Queen refuses to follow the PM's advice - however unthinkable that may be - then the PM has no legal power that can compel her. But there would, of course, be consequences, in the form of a constitutional crisis.

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Only Her Majesty can prorogue Parliament. If Her Majesty refuses a request by the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament, then that session of Parliament will continue.

As for overruling Her Majesty, Parliament would have no need to do so. If Parliament is not prorogued, then each House already has the power to decide when it sits. If it chooses not to sit, then overriding a decision not to prorogue seems a bit redundant.

  • So, if I'm understanding this correctly, the point is that Raab's plan is crazy and couldn't work, right? – divibisan Jun 7 at 15:21
  • It would depend on how Her Majesty deals with a prorogation request. There is precedent in Canada (which uses a practically identical system) in 2008 when the Prime Minister (Stephen Harper) requested (and was granted) a prorogation from the Governor General to avoid facing a vote of no confidence. – Joe C Jun 8 at 9:37

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