Queen urges UK to find ‘common ground’ as Brexit deepens
Monarch sends delicately coded message urging people to look at ‘bigger picture’
Queen Elizabeth II has emphasised the need for Britons to come together to ‘seek out the common ground’, in what has been viewed as an appeal to overcome divisions over Brexit. File photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images
With the clock ticking down to March 29th, the date set in law for Britain to leave the European Union, 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.
While the queen (92) did not mention Brexit explicitly in an annual speech to her local Women’s Institute in Norfolk, the monarch 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.
Though steeped in the conventional language the queen has made her hallmark, the remarks in the context of Britain’s crisis 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 delicately crafted plea for Scots to think carefully about their future.
Britain’s minister for finance Philip Hammond welcomed the remarks from the queen, saying there was huge wisdom in the monarch’s call for the country to find common ground.
“There is huge wisdom in those words and I don’t think anybody will be at all surprised to hear the queen advocating the view that in all things controversial we should seek compromise, we should seek common ground, we should seek a way forward,” Mr Hammond told BBC Radio.
“That is actually what we do in this country. That is how we solve problems in this country... It’s been our enormous strength over centuries that we have been able to find compromises that bring the nation together.”
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.
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 in the biggest defeat in modern British history.
Goldman Sachs will invest less in the UK if there is a difficult or hard Brexit, chief executive officer David Solomon said.
“Our headcount in the UK over the last couple of years has not gone down but it hasn’t gone up either – we have added head count ... on the continent,” Mr Solomon told the BBC in Davos.
“But I would say that, over time, if this is resolved in a difficult way or a hard way, it’ll have an impact on where we invest and where we put people,” he said. –Reuters