The saga/farce of Jeremy Corbyn and the Privy Council continues. The Daily Telegraph have been working themselves into a lather over his alleged refusal to be sworn in as a Privy Counsellor. Corbyn was expected to take the oath at today’s meeting, but he declined to attend, perhaps because he’s on holiday. In his absence, he will be appointed a Privy Counsellor by Order in Council, and the Telegraph claims that this is all part of a nefarious plot to get out of meeting the Queen.
This claim is silly on many levels. For starters, you can’t really avoid taking the oath. People who join the Council by Order are still sworn in at a later date. As far as I’m aware, no one in Britain has ever joined the Council without taking the oath at some point. There may have been cases where a statesman from the dominions was appointed by Order and never came to Britain to take the oath, but that would be a lot less constitutionally problematic than a frontline British politician (and possible future Prime Minister) failing to turn up.
The Telegraph makes it seem like it is practically unprecedented for someone to join the Council by Order, but it’s actually quite common. Not everyone can make it to the Palace ASAP. For example, David Cameron was appointed to the Council by Order in December 2005, but he wasn’t actually sworn in until March 2006.
Meeting the Queen might not be high on Corbyn’s list of priorities, but he’s going to have to do it at some point.
UPDATE (10/9): the Telegraph‘s ‘scoop’ about Corbyn’s refusal has become something of a damp squib. The official record of yesterday’s Privy Council meeting makes no mention of an Order making Corbyn a Privy Counsellor. Either someone at the Privy Council Office goofed and forgot to include the Order, or Corbyn is planning to join the Council in the normal manner.