The Sun has faced questions today over the accuracy of its front-page today as new editor Tony Gallagher took up his post.
The story, headlined ‘‘Court Jezter’’, suggests that the new Labour leader and republican had agreed to kiss the hand of the Queen and become a privy councillor ‘‘so he can get his hands on £6.2million of state cash".
The story states: ‘’Had Mr Corbyn refused the traditional invitation to join the ancient advisory panel – which gives members 'The Right Honourable' title – he would have triggered a constitutional crisis and jeopardised Labour’s taxpayer funding.
‘’On top of Labour potentially losing £6.2m a year in official ‘short money’ opposition funding, Downing Street suggested Mr Corbyn would be barred from the National Security Council and Cobra meetings.’’
The Sun quoted lawyer Richard Gordon QC, who said: “rejection of PC membership by Jeremy Corbyn could raise issues relating to the status of the official opposition”.
But Buzzfeed News’ special correspondent James Ball wrote that Gordon ‘’...distanced himself from the story and said his quote had nothing to do with Short money, the term for the public funding opposition parties receive".
In an interview with the Huffington Post Catherine Haddon, from the Institute for Government, said: "A leader is often given Privy Council status so they can be fully briefed on national security issues."
"This has nothing to do with Short money."
Gordon provided a copy of his full statement to Press Gazette: ''My reasoning that refusal of a place could (the word I allowed to be cited) raise constitutional issues was not related to short money. It was based on the constitutional relationship between the monarchy and main political party as the official opposition. The cabinet ‘advises’ the Queen as the executive committee of the Privy Council. The official opposition is otherwise known as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and the Opposition is comprised of ‘shadow’ offices of State that mirror (albeit sometimes imprecisely) those of the cabinet.
''If Corbyn were Prime Minister the refusal of a place in the Privy Council would not be obviously easy to reconcile with the constitutional theory of cabinet functions. The relationship of the Opposition to the Government might be thought by some to raise a parallel (though less direct) issue about the constitutional relationship of the Opposition to the Crown.
''However, I have little doubt that in the longer term and in practice that relationship could be changed (most probably by a new practice forming a new constitutional convention) which was why in the phrase I allowed to be quoted I suggested that the issues if they arose would be ‘short-term’.
''My view is that the constitutional issues that could arise in the short term by Mr Corbyn’s refusal to become a member of the PC are: (i) whether the constitutional relationship between the Crown and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition might be affected by the leader of the official Opposition refusing to become a member of the PC and (if so (ii) how that issue might be resolved in theory and/or in practice.''
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