In law, if May can’t pass #QueensSpeech, #Corbyn AUTOMATICALLY becomes PM

no 10

The Tories announced today that Theresa May’s ‘Queen’s Speech’ programme for government has been postponed from its expected date of 19 June – clearly because they have so far been unable to reach agreement with the Democratic Unionists (DUP), who are queasy about the prospect of going into an unpopular government against the clear wish of many British people.

Even the possibility of a Tory-DUP deal has raised tensions and fears in Northern Ireland, with experts asserting that the collaboration between the two parties puts the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ at serious risk, threatening the fragile peace process.

In spite of this, the Tories persist in pursuing such a deal for their own narrow gain,

They have attempted to justify this tactic by claiming it’s ‘for the good of the country’ and that Britain would be destabilised, with no clear path of transition to a Labour government when the parliamentary arithmetic means Labour could not achieve – without the very unlikely and problematic support of the DUP – a Commons majority.

This is a lie.

In the run-up to the 2015 election, which all the pollsters and pundits incorrectly expected to result in a ‘hung Parliament’, an expert in constitutional law looked at the legal precedent and convention surrounding the possibility that then-incumbent PM David Cameron would fail to get his Queen’s Speech through a Commons vote.

And he not only concluded that the leader of the next-largest party would automatically become Prime Minister, but pointed out no fewer than four occasions within the last century when exactly that happened.

In a 2015 article on the law site Head of Legal, Carl Gardiner looked in detail at constitutional law, how it applied in those four examples and how it would apply to a hung Parliament in 2015. For the detailed legal analysis, read the full article – but his examples and key conclusions are:

1924: then-leader Ramsay MacDonald was immediately invited by the king to form a minority Labour government when the Tories – the largest single party – could not pass its King’s Speech. MacDonald did not have to seek a coalition or demonstrate a functional majority

1929: MacDonald was again invited to be PM, even though Labour had won only 287 of the then-615 parliamentary seats, after Tory PM Baldwin resigned upon being unable to command a Commons majority. Again, MacDonald did not have to demonstrate a functioning majority

1974: Harold Wilson was invited by the queen to form a government after Edward Heath’s attempts to agree a coalition with the Liberals failed. He immediately formed a minority government in spite of stating firmly that he would not seek nor enter any coalition

2010: Then-PM Gordon Brown resigned immediately it became clear that he could not command a Commons majority, even though David Cameron had not yet agreed a coalition with the LibDems’ Nick Clegg. The coalition gave Cameron a functioning majority – but before the deal with the LibDems was finalised, he was summoned to the Palace ‘as a matter of course’.

He concludes his discussion of the course of events:

law feldman.png

and then goes on to make clear that the crucial test for whether there is a ‘hung Parliament with no party in overall control is the ability to pass a Queen’s Speech:


No wonder that Theresa May has postponed the Queen’s Speech and is desperately trying  – in spite of the clear risk to the safety of the people of Northern Ireland – to secure the backing of a demanding DUP that sees no need to compromise on its demands.

If she cannot get her Queen’s Speech through Parliament at the first attempt – constitutional law makes Jeremy Corbyn the Prime Minister by default, without the need for him to do the same.

The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers. If you found this information helpful and can afford to, please do click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your support so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.


  1. Taking all that as read, and assuming no MPs die or are incapacitated, there will be 642 voting MPs (650 less Speaker and Sinn Fein)

    Cons have 317

    Labour + LD + Green + PC + SNP + Ind = 315

    In other words to defeat the Queen’s speech even with the support of every other non DUP party, at least 3 DUP would have to vote with Labour even assuming the other 7 abstained.

    I’m not sure that’s a realistic prospect – especially in light of the vitriol that’s currently being directed toward the DUP from Labour.

    1. Not sure if you’re 100% right about that. Some “one nation” Tories might vote for the progressive alliance because of Brexit and the dodgy alliance with the DUP. That would be very strange, but these are strange times, and some moderate Tories may decide not to risk a collapse of the Good Friday agreement and a disastrous Brexit just to keep their slender minority government crawling along.

      Personally I’m hoping for another election as soon as possible. I think Labour are almost certain to get a big majority. Then they can be truly “strong and stable” and sort out the utter mess that the Tories have made out of our country.

      If the Tories try and cling on, I fear major social unrest and riots. They have no legitimacy to rule any more.

      1. As I’ve said on another thread it would be a brave Cons MP indeed who voted to take his party out of government and into opposition.

        On non government toppling votes later in the Parliament strange alliances might well emerge however.

    2. That’s assuming all torys vote in favour of May, even disgruntled backbenchers…

  2. The resurgence of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and on the British mainland by terrorist organisations closely associated to the DUP is not only a possibility, it is already happening and is a direct consequence of Theresa May’s reckless and self serving attempt to cling on to power.

    These terrorist organisations have been emboldened by the DUP entering into coalition with the Conservative Party.

    It is the duty of all MPs to place the security and stability of this country above their own partisan interests.

    It is a matter of national security for MPs to vote down Theresa May’s Queen’s speech in order to prevent the Northern Ireland conflict recommencing.

    1. This person lives in some parallel universe. Loyalist violence on the British mainland , historically, has been minimal and is not “already happening”. Perhaps he is confusing it with SF/IRA violence which killed dozens on the “mainland” and cost billions of pounds worth of damage.


  4. We already have a raised terrorist threat, never mind the war in Ulster starting again just because the Tories cling to power and care not at all for the public’s safety.

  5. This is not supported by law.

    It was the custom that if a government failed to get their Queen’s Speech through Parliament, specifically the Commons, unamended it was considered a vote of no confidence. This happened three time, once to the Derby ministry and twice to Salisbury and on a further occasion, with an explicit expression of no confidence in the amendment that was passed, to the Baldwin ministry of 1924.

    Before the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 such an event would lead to the resignation of the government whereupon the other parties in the Commons would be invited to form a majority or express willingness to form a minority administration. If none could then a dissolution and election would follow.

    However the 2011 Act has disrupted this. The prerogative power to dissolve Parliament has been removed and replaced by statutory provisions.

    Loss of the motion on the Queen’s Speech can no longer of itself cause a dissolution. That, by the terms of the Act requires either (a) a two thirds majority of all MPs voting for a dissolution or (b) passing a motion of no confidence — in a specific form of words laid down by the Act — by a simple majority and in the subsequent 14 days neither a vote of confidence being passed or another government being formed.

    Therefore it would now appear to be possible for a government to lose the Queen’s Speech yet remain in office, albeit without the apparent authority to put forward a legislative program.

    This is evidently a foolish possibility, and one not anticipated by those who drafted the 2011 Act.

  6. An ‘expert’ in constitutional law, eh? We know exactly how the toerags regard ‘experts’ and ‘law’…

    I’m in agreement with paulstanway – They’ll do whatever it takes to cling to power (Not that they’re not doing so already) but if there isn’t another election by February at the very latest, there’ll be major civil unrest all over the shop. Plenty of people are already sick of these rats doing as they please & ‘retroactively’ changing laws to suit their ideology.

    Both they & Bliar’s new labour have f*cked around with the legal system & constitution unhindered for long enough. Straws & camel’s backs….

    1. Yours is the second prediction of civil unrest if there isn’t another election soon. Bearing in mind that more people voted Cons than Labour (the only credible alternative), on what possible grounds would people take to the streets? That they don’t like an election result?

      1. No, the grounds would be for the national security of the UK and to stop the Good Friday agreement being broken! I think those two reasons alone are vital to the country and it’s people!

      2. @jaypot2012

        If we’re talking lying down in the road and singing “we shall overcome” then I’ve no objection to that type of expression of discontent with the government.

        Most definitions of “civil unrest” contain the word violence however, and a previous poster used the word “riots”.

        Whatever one’s view on the decisions made by the government (in this case formed mainly from the party which received the most votes in an election one week ago), violence and riots cannot be an acceptable form of expression in a parliamentary democracy.

      3. Ok, Graham…I’ll play

        Do you think the ‘real’ IRA will take this coalition lying down?

        Do you believe that any violence will be confined to Ulster?

        Not that it’d need to be…

        It ‘only’ took the death of an unarmed man at the hands of the met in London to provoke RIOTS (I said ‘civil unrest; not necessarily riots, per se) on a NATIONWIDE scale in 2011…Before that it was getting the students angry.

        Before then it was the Poll Tax….And the tories had a majority Govt, then.

        Boris bought those water cannon for a reason, May will be reneging on allowing their use before long if she continues to ride roughshod in order to fulfil her (nigh-on) megalomania…

      4. @The Toffee

        What may happen may happen.

        (To take Duggan as an example should we forbid our police to lawfully kill, just in case riots might ensue?)

        The next general election will be in 2022, unless the elected Parliament decides otherwise.

        If we allow the threat of civil disorder to determine election dates, we are at the mercy of any self selected group who decide that they know best.

        That’s not a situation in which I would be at ease.

      5. Seems my response might be out of sink with the conversation, but to put it simply – IVF are DUP in militarised clothing, who have gone all “we want our democracy” (use any irish voice you can muster) due to the peace talks, IRA are Sinn Fein in military clothing, and they don’t like each other, so the peace accord is reliant on this government, not appeasing one, but both… or yes – not wanted nor I condone the idea – but the IRA could pull out of the Good Friday Agreement because little miss enough is enough, Brexit is Brexit, toffee is toffee, or pink is pink, will have created the problem… she of course should know better… but doesn’t. And we will return to even more bombings on the UK mainland because ‘you cant be seen to be colluding with a terrorist …mr corbyn’, but for Mrs May thats ok (sun editor).

      6. Graham,

        I’m not aloof to the underlying resentment of people (of different political persuasions it must be made clear) to both what the toerags HAVE done, and what they’re ABOUT to do.

        Nobody’s made any ‘threats’…People are pointing out the inherent risks of tory ‘strategy’. Your underlying tone suggests to me that you believe I advocate it. I don’t.

        I’m saying the tories can’t say they weren’t warned IF it DOES go off. As I’ve said, it’s taken far less (in terms of national importance) for it to do so.

        You can make all sorts of claims to your version of ‘democracy’ , but denying democracy to ALL, and reneging on hard-fought for agreements that uphold the (what will be ‘increasingly’) fragile peace is an act of treachery in my humble opinion. I’ll remind you that any Govt’s first priority is to keep the populace SAFE.

        This coalition on the face of it, not might – but WILL provoke/foment violence in Ulster that could return to the mainland.

        And that’s before any other (conservative-only) policies that are harming the public as a whole – better known as ‘austerity’ – cause enough resentment on their own. It could well be an aggravating factor without the Ulster conundrum.

        As an aside re: duggan being ‘lawfully’ killled….Hmmm. I suppose the 1500 or so people to have died in police custody since 1990 have all been ‘lawful’ deaths too, eh?

        Another thing – we don’t have enough police as it is; and the ones we DO have are low enough on confidence…

        There’s a sh*tstorm brewing. It’s nothing to do with any inference of anarchy. The signs are there. So is the solution.

        But it appears the tories know best…

      7. @The Toffee

        We’re obviously not going to agree, but firstly on Duggan:


        and I’m not aware of any appeal to the Supreme Court.

        Secondly you refer to “my” version of democracy and “democracy for all”.

        My version of democracy is what we have – a Parliamentary one – and I’m quite comfortable with it, although there is an argument for PR rather than FPTP even though that would lead to almost permanent coalition government.

        Unfortunately “my” democracy does mean that, for example, the 600k UKIP voters won’t have a say in how the country is run, and even under strict PR would only have had 13 MPs. But that’s how it works – the government can’t please everyone.

        Thirdly, and finally you say that the solution is there – presumably a Labour government which would represent even fewer voters than the Conservatives.

        And you might be right – 70 year old Conservative voters like me are hardly likely to take to the streets to protest against the denial of democracy to us!

      8. Graham.

        You’re right – we’re not going to agree.

        RE: Duggan.

        Well done on entirely missing the point – how long did it take after he was shot before it went off? Did the rioters stop to sit round a table & discuss the democratic aspect of their actions when burning down premises, looting & vandalising etc?

        I’m not entirely sure they did.

        Ok, so his family lost their appeal.Which (I suppose) makes it ‘lawful’ killing. Heard about the recent case of Anthony Grainger? Or James Ashley? Or Harry Stanley? Ian Tomlinson? To name a few…

        The police have been ‘lawfully killing’ unarmed civilians forever…AND walking. Just like the bankers/MP’s/Elitists have been walking…So there’s the resentment against the elite, the police & judiciary from certain sectors of society.

        Bearing in mind you already have that resentment against the police & judiciary, PLUS the seeds of division/discord/distrust planted by THIS government between police & blacks, police & asians, whites & asians, blacks & whites, blacks & asians, UK nationals & immigrants, rich & poor, old & young, working & unemployed, brexit & remain…See the picture, now?

        And now the tories are gonna go back to creating rifts between protestant & catholic in Ulster, by the looks. Except they’re slightly less restrained over there, as history has proved – Nor are certain factions averse to bringing their arguments over here…

        And the police (In order to maintain law & order) will be in the middle – against everyone. Quite possibly in conjunction with the army; seeing as the plod don’t have the numbers or the equipment, to cope with full-scale ‘unrest’.

        All because these megalomaniacal rats want their cake & yours…

      9. @The Toffee

        Your position seems to be that if there’s a risk of disaffected elements taking to the streets because the Parliamentary arithmetic hasn’t worked in their favour, then we should allow our democratic processes to be subverted by them.

        I hope I’m wrong on that.

  7. The article appears to forget the effect of the Fixed Term Parliement Act – what would be required is a vote of no confidence and then 14 days for JC or anyone else to see if they can command a sufficient support to form a new Government or there would be second general election.

    1. No, it doesn’t forget it. The legal experts quoted in an article a couple of days ago showed that it’s irrelevant to the case.

  8. Why did May call another Electiln when she had a majority as it was? She really is an idiot .

  9. It is not at all clear that this article is correct, indeed, my reading so far would seem to indicate that it is wrong – although there appears to be quite a lot of discussion in the legal community about exactly what the Fixed Term Parliaments Acts has on constitutional conventions.

    According to Colin Talbot, the Act makes minority governments much more stable than in the past: events that previously might have forced a government out of power—such as loss of supply, defeat of a Queen’s Speech or other important legislation, or a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister rather than the government as a whole—cannot formally do so, see http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/under-the-fixed-term-parliaments-act-a-minority-government-doesnt-need-a-confidence-and-supply-arrangement-to-be-able-to-govern/

    This view would appear to be backed up backed up by this article in the New Statesmen whose update references the Commons Information Office http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/05/if-queen%E2%80%99s-speech-amended-prime-minister-must-resign

    See also this current article http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/06/theres-something-everyone-has-missed-about-dup-and-fixed-term-parliaments which states:

    “Thanks to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, “confidence votes” have been explicitly drawn to exclude votes on the Budget or the Queen’s Speech. A government only falls if it loses a vote of no confidence. It no longer falls if it loses a major vote, a Budget vote or even the Queen’s Speech.”

    However, it seems not everyone agrees, see e.g. https://spinninghugo.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/the-fixed-term-parliament-sic-act-and-professor-colin-talbot/

  10. All those examples predate the Fixed Term Parliament Act, which changed the rules. Furthermore, although May is short and needs other-party support, but Corbyn can’t make the numbers required at all. (And EVEL means he’d need a majority of English MPs, which he also hasn’t got.)

    1. That’s not true. The Cabinet Manual was published two months AFTER the FTPA became law and the legal analysis was done in 2015. Doesn’t matter when the examples were, the legal analysis postdates the Act and shows that it has not changed the convention. That same analysis shows Corbyn doesn’t *need* to make the numbers. That’s not what constitutional law requires.

  11. @Graham Hindson.

    Correct. You ARE wrong.


    Show me one instance to back up your claim. Show us all where I’ve said we should allow our democratic processes to be subverted.

    You can’t. And the reason you can’t is because we all know know I’ve not said that anywhere in the discussion. There’s a massive difference between me predicting what will happen and why; and the indifference that you’ve accused me of. You’ll be accusing me of incitement next.

    1. @The Toffee

      Apologies for the misunderstanding and thanks for clearing that up.

      It seems that we are in agreement after all. The democratic / parliamentary process should not be influenced by the prospect of those who disagree with the outcome taking to the streets.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: