Find common ground, Queen urges politicians

While the monarch did not mention Brexit explicitly in an annual speech to her local Women's Institute in Norfolk, she said every generation faced "fresh challenges and opportunities."
While the monarch did not mention Brexit explicitly in an annual speech to her local Women's Institute in Norfolk, she said every generation faced "fresh challenges and opportunities."PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Queen Elizabeth has sent a delicately coded message to Britain's factious political class over Brexit, urging lawmakers to seek common ground and grasp the big picture to resolve the crisis.

With the clock ticking down to March 29, the date set in law for Britain to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom is in the deepest political crisis it has experienced in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.

While the monarch, 92, did not mention Brexit explicitly in an annual speech to her local Women's Institute in Norfolk, she said every generation faced "fresh challenges and opportunities."

"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 Queen said.

The remarks are a signal to politicians to sort out the turmoil that has pushed the world's fifth-largest economy to the brink.

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".

As head of state, the Queen remains neutral on politics in public and is unable to vote, though ahead of the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, she made a plea for Scots to think carefully about their future.

The future of Brexit remains unpredictable. Options range from a disorderly exit that would spook investors across the world to a new referendum that could reverse the process.

Prime Minister Theresa May is engaged in a last-ditch bid to win support for a tweaked divorce deal after parliament this month crushed the original plan.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2019, with the headline 'Find common ground, Queen urges politicians'. Print Edition | Subscribe