The UK’s Queen Elizabeth has urged Britons to come together to “seek out the common ground,” a coded plea to the British political class to resolve the Brexit crisis that has shocked investors and allies alike.
The queen made the remarks on Thursday at the Women’s Institute in Norfolk near her Sandringham estate in eastern England, though she did not mention Brexit explicitly.
“As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture,” the monarch said.
The comments, a rare foray for the 92-year-old queen into the political sphere, were quickly interpreted by UK government ministers as broad support of their desperate search for a compromise over Brexit.
“I think there is huge wisdom in those words,” UK finance minister Philip Hammond told BBC radio.
With about two months left to the Brexit date — March 29, the United Kingdom is in the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.
Some members of parliament from the Conservative Party have suggested the queen can block any legislation seeking to delay or impede Brexit.
That would prove hugely controversial in a country where the monarchy holds sweeping powers in theory but has only rarely if ever implemented them in modern times. As head of state, the queen remains neutral on politics in public and is unable to vote.
A few months before the EU membership referendum in June 2016, there was public uproar over a front-page headline in The Sun newspaper saying: “Queen Backs Brexit.”
Buckingham Palace declined to comment, though the British media was clear about the significance of her remarks. The Times’ headline read: “End Brexit feud, Queen tells warring politicians”.
The future of Brexit remains unpredictable with options ranging from a disorderly exit that would spook investors across the world to a new referendum that could reverse the process.
France and other European powers said they were preparing for the worst.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is engaged in a last-ditch bid to win support for a tweaked withdrawal agreement after parliament this month crushed the original plan in the biggest defeat in modern UK history.