According to BBC in Government asks Queen to suspend Parliament:

The government has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament just days after MPs return to work in September - and only a few weeks before the Brexit deadline.

A bit later it exposes the rationale behind this:

(...) it was thought Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would call for an emergency debate in the Commons next week, giving MPs a chance to lay down legislation designed to ultimately stop a no-deal exit.

But if Parliament is suspended on 10 September, as is suggested, it will only give opponents a few days next week to push for their changes.

And in here they explain what it means to have a prorogued Parliament:

When Parliament is prorogued, no debates and votes are held - and most laws that haven't completed their passage through Parliament die a death.

This happens every year, so it would be theoretically normal, but in this specific case it is blocking the Parliament for as much as one month, when there are just two months to go for October 31 2019 (the date when the Brexit is supposed to happen no matter if there is no deal.)

To my understanding, this would go against one of the key points of democracy, which is Separation of powers: by suspending the Parlament, the executive would block the legislature.

What I miss here is what should be the role of the Queen here: can she blindly accept the request from the Prime Minister? If she did, what could the legislature do to force the Parliament to be reopened? Can the judiciary intervene here?

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    As much as I understand it, the queen's role is purely ceremonial at this point, so if johnson asked, she'd have to oblige.
    – Magisch
    Aug 28, 2019 at 11:47
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    The UK doesn't have a true separaton of powers
    – James
    Aug 28, 2019 at 12:19
  • Indeed, until 2007 it had a true fusion of powers in the office of the Lord Chancellor en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Chancellor
    – origimbo
    Aug 28, 2019 at 12:35
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    Separation of powers is not a key point of democracy. It's a key part of presidential states like the US; but parliamentary states typically have a fusion of powers, in that the executive is formed from, and is directly answerable to, the legislature. Aug 28, 2019 at 13:40
  • 1
    This related question asks about why British monarchs don't veto acts of Parliament, but the principle applies here too. Aug 28, 2019 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


In theory the queen could refuse, but in practice it's basically impossible. Her role is ceremonial, she is expected to do as "advised" by her ministers and nothing else. If she were to exercise her power against that advice it would create a constitutional crisis, pitting Parliament against the Crown.

The results of that are difficult to predict but it seems that the Crown, i.e. the institution, would have to be removed. No democracy can tolerate a monarch with those kinds of unchecked powers.

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    "it would create a constitutional crisis, pitting Parliament against the Crown" even if the action is disputed by a significant portion of the Parliament?
    – komodosp
    Aug 28, 2019 at 16:21
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    I'd dispute that the Queen exercising her power would inevitably lead to her removal, since similar exercises of Crown power have happened in other Westminster systems in living memory. Australia's Governor General sacked the Prime Minister in 1975; and the while the Canadian Governor General didn't refuse prorogation in 2008, she attached conditions to what the government had to do when Parliament reconvened. Aug 28, 2019 at 18:08
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    And, ironically enough, the current situation puts Jeremy Corbyn (a staunch Republican and anti-Monarchist) in the position of having to ask the Queen to use the theoretical power which he doesn't like her having, to block the Prime Minister from performing out an act that he (Corbyn) would normally campaign for the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to not to have to ask the Queen for permission to carry out. Aug 28, 2019 at 18:47
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    Does she have to agree on the spot? Proroguing the parliament at such a moment is a non-trivial request. It appears reasonable if she asks for time to make up her mind or time to seek advice.
    – Nick
    Aug 28, 2019 at 18:48
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    @Nick unfortunately she is obliged to take the PM's advice. Nobody else's matters. It's "advice" in name only, it's really an order.
    – user
    Aug 29, 2019 at 12:31

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