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Royal prerogative gives UK PM power to overrule parliament, cabinet

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British Prime Minister David Cameron (left) meeting the Queen of England (right) outside 10 Downing Street in London

Prime Minister David Cameron enjoys the power to overrule the UK parliament’s recent vote in opposition to military intervention in Syria by using the so-called ‘royal prerogative’, which bypasses any Commons decision over acts of war.

Although last Thursday’s vote decided, by 13 votes, against the proposed air strikes on the Arab country, it would have been pointless if Cameron used the royal prerogative, which is the true face of the undemocratic ruling system of Britain and its internal and foreign affairs, which are dictated by the unelected monarchy.

Cameron abided to go with the majority, but still strongly believes there is a need to strike Syria.

Since Thursday, relations between the UK and US have been scarred by Britain’s overall decision to not intervene in the US-led strikes. US President Barack Obama reconsidered his stance as the commander-in-chief by asking Congress for a backing. It has also worsened the reputation of Cameron to control his party and decreased the level of respect from the opposition.

In the coming weeks up to the vote, Foreign Secretary William Hague was adamant that foreign-backed terrorists in Syria were to get air support from the UK. The opposition Labour Party said Hague was furious over Cameron’s decision to not give the green light directly by using the royal prerogative. Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick quit as shadow transport spokesman, saying he opposes military intervention of any kind.

Royals in Britain, although officially only having a constitutional role, still pertain over the country’s affairs with the prime minister attending weekly meetings with the Queen and in January, reports revealed the monarchy’s secretive power of veto over any new legislations.

The royal prerogative was originally just in the hands of the monarchy, which has diminished over the years and is now exercised in accordance with advice from government ministers.

It gives the prime minister the chance to approach the queen requesting to overrule decisions of the cabinet and the parliament without any considerations for the public opinion. It can be used in foreign affairs, defence, and national security matters. This medieval and undemocratic power that can be used by an unelected monarch has yet to be withdrawn. In the 1999, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, on the basis of pleasing the Queen, used the prerogative to launch the Kosovo war, which killed 600 people.


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