The UK's fixed-term parliament and the Brexit gridlock

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'What the Queen-in-Parliament enacts is law.'

Matthew Yglesias

Over time, however, the Lords were stripped of almost all their real power and a new tradition developed in which the queen would act exclusively on the advice of her prime minister. The PM, however, is elected by the House of Commons rather than directly by the voters. In other words, it's not a dictatorship where the PM can just do whatever. Mass opinion, the opinion of the members of Parliament, and the interplay between the two play a critical role in shaping outcomes. But you never have a stand-off - either the PMs get what they want or there's a new election, which they either win or lose.

So instead, the Liberal Democrats opted to work with David Cameron's Conservative Party and form a coalition cabinet. This is highly unusual in UK politics. But they opted for this course rather than let Mr Cameron form a minority government, supposedly due to the need for stability in a time of economic crisis.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took the position that the real problem was Mrs May and her negotiating position. He wanted a fresh election that he hoped to win. Key to this strategy was the belief that Labour was likely to do well in a new election, primarily because of the rise of a new Brexit Party that espoused a harder line than Mrs May.


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