Jeremy Corbyn today compared Theresa May to an autocratic monarch, for refusing to say whether MPs will get a vote on the UK’s final Brexit deal.
‘You’re not Henry VIII,’ Jeremy Corbyn tells Theresa May’ is the Guardian’s front page splash.
This is of course undeniably true. Theresa May is many things, but she is certainly not the bloodthirsty former King of England. So which other great English monarchs is she not?
Elizabeth I ruled England and Ireland from 1558 to 1603. Known as “the Virgin Queen”, Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and came to the throne at the age of 25. Like the prime minister, Elizabeth had poor relations with her European counterparts, taking on and defeating the the Spanish Armada in 1588. However, she was at no point the elected MP for Maidenhead.
Henry V ruled from 1413 to 1422. A well-known Eurosceptic, Henry led a campaign against France in the Hundred Year’s War, nearly conquering the country and signing a treaty that made him heir-apparent to the French throne. He is famously portrayed by Shakespeare as a brave leader, who cried “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” However, there is no record of him ever calling for a “Red, white and blue Brexit.”
James was king of Scotland until 1603, before becoming the first Stuart ruler of England. He was the originator of the King James Bible, which became the standard biblical text for 250 years. Like May, his belief in the divine right of Kings brought him into constant conflict with Parliament. However, unlike the prime minister he at no point proposed bringing back grammar schools.
Edward I ruled England from 1272 to 1307. Known as “Edward Longshanks” for his unusual height and “Hammer of the Scots” for the brutality of his Scottish military campaigns, Edward is also credited with solidifying the authority of Parliament. Unlike May, there is no record of him ever challenging MPs’ right to vote on Brexit in the Supreme Court.
Victoria understood the need to maintain close relations with other European leaders. Her nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, earning her the title “the Grandmother of Europe.” Like May, she ruled over the country without ever facing a public vote. However, unlike the prime minister she was never heard to utter the words “Brexit means Brexit”.
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