Sir Oliver Letwin (‘Effect on Constitution is Profound’, Sat 28th Sept) was right to welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to nullify the recent prorogation, and to note that in future governments that make unreasonable use of prerogative powers, may be subject to legal challenge. However I do not feel that appeal to the courts is always the right way of addressing such issues.

Taking the matter of prorogations, although Boris Johnson may not carry out his threat to seek another unreasonable prorogation, other Prime Ministers might. A very simple piece of legislation could be enacted that would require a Prime Minister, before asking the Queen for a prorogation, to check that Parliament is ok with it. As things stand she has (by convention) to accept the Prime Minister’s advice even if she is unhappy with doing so.

The one important decision the Queen has to make without the advice of the Prime Minister is to choose his or her successor. She needs to choose the person most likely to command a majority in the House of Commons. Up to now the choice has been obvious. Even in 2010 when there was a hung Parliament she had only to wait to see which way the Lib Dems would jump. The situation presented by the resignation of Mrs May is however I think unique. Mrs May’s government was a minority one propped up by the DUP, and by the time she resigned even DUP support was barely enough. Should the Conservative Party be able in effect to elect the Prime Minister? That raises the question, “Is not the House of Commons itself best placed to judge who could command their support?” This is the situation in the Irish republic where the constitution says, “The President shall, on the nomination of Dáil Éireann, appoint the Taoiseach, that is, the head of the Government or Prime Minister.” [The President has no discretion in this matter]. Were that rule applied here, MPs might have chosen Boris Johnson anyway, or they might have wanted to choose someone less divisive - Ken Clarke for example.

A simple piece of legislation to adopt the Irish solution seems the appropriate solution.

David Smith