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Queen in unity call as MPs battle over Brexit

Sky News logo Sky News 24/01/2019 Greg Heffer, political reporter

Elizabeth II et al. that are talking to each other: The Queen emphasised the importance of patience in her address © PA The Queen emphasised the importance of patience in her address As MPs continue to battle over Brexit, the Queen has extolled the virtues "respecting different points of views" and "coming together to seek out the common ground".

Her Majesty returned to the theme of her Christmas Day message in a speech to mark the centenary of the Sandringham Women's Institute, of which she is president.

News, analysis and expert opinion as the UK gets closer to leaving the European Union

In what will be viewed as a veiled reference to the ongoing debate over the UK's departure from the EU, the Queen said: "Reflecting on a century of change, it is clear that the qualities of the WI endure.

"The continued emphasis on patience, friendship, a strong community focus, and considering the needs of others, are as important today as they were when the group was founded all those years ago.

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"Of course, every generation faces 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.

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"To me, these approaches are timeless, and I commend them to everyone."

The Queen is politically neutral in her role as head of state but her address on Wednesday marks the second time in the space of the month she has spoken of the need for tolerance.

Elizabeth II sitting in a car: The Queen gave a speech to mark the centenary of the Sandringham Women's Institute © PA The Queen gave a speech to mark the centenary of the Sandringham Women's Institute

In her Christmas message, she said: "Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding."

The Queen was dragged into the EU referendum campaign in 2016 when The Sun newspaper reported she once told former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg she believed the EU was heading in the wrong direction.

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However, the Independent Press Standards Organisation later ruled the headline accompanying the article, titled "Queen backs Brexit", was "significantly misleading".

With MPs having overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement with the EU, the House of Commons now appears to be deadlocked over how to proceed with Brexit.

There have been suggestions the Queen could yet be asked to play a role amid the current impasse.

Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg this week claimed the government should suspend parliament if a cross-party group of MPs are successful in their bid to introduce legislation to make a "no-deal" Brexit impossible.

Mr Rees-Mogg suggested the prime minister could ask the Queen to "prorogue" parliament - to bring an end to its current session - which would likely see any pending legislation that had not yet been passed into law then expire.

The monarch attends a meeting of the her local Women's Institute once a year at West Newton village hall as part of her winter stay on her Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

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