“My Lords and members of the House of Commons. In normal times, I would tell you today what my minsters and my government intend to do for the coming year. In accord with our constitution, that speech would be written by them because we have wisely recognized that in a parliamentary democracy, the people’s voice, not the monarch’s, is the voice that matters.
But these are not normal times.
In normal times, I would have ministers and a government that command your assent. My voice would be silenced because theirs — and those of the people who elected them — reign supreme. I would read their words, you would debate their implications, and then you would vote whether to support them. Losing that vote would topple my government, and I would receive a new government, either through your choice or that of the people. That is how our constitution operates.
But our constitution is no longer operating.
You have given me — and, more importantly, the British people — a zombie government that can neither control the floor nor events. It cannot act because it knows a majority of you do not support its actions. It cannot establish a majority because those who oppose it do not wish to make an arrangement whereby it can act comfortably in the knowledge it faithfully represents the segment of the British people who back it most fervently. Yet, you do not, as our constitution requires, choose to replace it with one that can command your confidence.
This can no longer stand. I have no government. Britain has no government. This is unconstitutional.
My constitutional role as the sole figure representing the entire nation, above party, requires me to act. That action consists first of these words: You must give me a government.
You have only three realistic options before you. First, you can back the current set of ministers. Doing this requires repealing the bill that Parliament passed last month binding them against their will toward a Brexit policy that betrays their supporters.
Second, you can form a new government from among you that can command a majority in Commons.
Or, third, you can dissolve yourselves in favor of a new election so that the British people can decide whom they wish to govern them.
I do not say this to advantage one party or one set of views over another. My constitutional role is to implement the British people’s will through her elected representatives. You can back or sack the Right Honorable member from Uxbridge and South Ruislip; I do not care.
But I do care that I have a government. Our constitution works only when a government can command a majority on the floor of the House of Commons. When it cannot command that majority, it cannot act. The British people suffer.
This is especially true now, as Britain’s relations with its closest neighbors for the foreseeable future are being established. Britain can choose to remain, leave or anything in between. That choice is yours and the British people’s, not mine. But choose you must. And yet you refuse to choose.
You seem more interested in playing games to taunt and humiliate someone whom you do not respect rather than entrust power to someone whom you do. This is behavior more suitable to teenagers at a Sixth Form college than to members of the mother of parliaments.
You took 12 separate votes on alternative visions of what our future relations with the European Union might look like. Each option failed to secure a majority. You know what you don’t want, but you don’t know what you do want.
That is how spoiled children behave, not men and women to whom the nation entrusts with their safety, prosperity and happiness.
Today, however, your game is up. I possess the constitutional power to refuse royal assent to all acts of Parliament if, in my judgment, they will not suffice to benefit the British people. That right has not been exercised in centuries, but it remains intact, and no court can say my exercise of it violates our laws.
I will use that power to refuse my assent to any act you pass, including those affecting supply for my purported government, until you choose one of the three options I have presented for your consideration. This is an unprecedented act, but these are unprecedented times.
The British people want a working government. The British constitution requires it. I demand it.”