Report Queen Elizabeth 'backs Brexit' denied

9th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

A report by a British tabloid that Queen Elizabeth II is in favour of the country leaving the European Union was quickly denied on Tuesday by the former deputy prime minister.

The Sun, Britain's most-read daily newspaper, put the headline "Queen backs Brexit" on its front page with a photograph of the monarch, with the subtitle "EU going in wrong direction, she says".

The tabloid cited an anonymous "senior source" to say that the queen had argued strongly against the pro-European Nick Clegg during a lunch when he was deputy prime minister, prior to the May 2015 election.

"People who heard their conversation were left in no doubt at all about the queen's views on European integration," the source was quoted to say. "The EU is clearly something her majesty feels passionately about."

But Clegg, a politician with the Liberal Democrat party who was deputy prime minister from 2010 to 2015, denied the report.

"As I told the journalist this is nonsense," he wrote on Twitter. "I've no recollection of this happening & its not the sort of thing I would forget."

Britain is due to vote in June on whether to remain a member of the 28-member European Union.

Opinion polls show that the campaign to remain within the EU is slightly ahead, but its lead over the "leave" campaign has narrowed in recent months ahead of the referendum.

The royal family is supposed to be constitutionally above politics, but has been known to issue carefully worded pronouncements on sensitive issues.

Last month the queen's grandson Prince William made a speech saying Britain's tradition of international cooperation was "essential" to its security, interpreted by the British press as an intervention in support of remaining in the EU.

On that occasion, a spokesman for his Kensington Palace office said "this was not about Europe". No comment was immediately available on The Sun report.

© 2016 AFP

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