Boris Johnson asks the Queen to shut down Parliament until mid-October to force through a no-deal Brexit
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament in mid-September to force through a no-deal Brexit.
- Johnson has moved to hold a Queen's Speech in mid-October, with Parliament suspended and on recess for weeks beforehand.
- Members of Parliament would then have just days left to block Johnson from forcing through a no-deal exit on October 31.
- Opponents accused Johnson of a "deeply undemocratic" move.
- Johnson insisted Parliament would still have "ample time" to debate Brexit.
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament just days after it returns from summer recess next week, until mid-October, to force through a no-deal Brexit.
Johnson on Wednesday morning asked the monarch to prorogue Parliament on September 9, just days after members return from their summer break, until October 14. This means MPs who oppose a no-deal Brexit and are plotting to stop it would have just days to find a way of doing so, either side of these dates. The UK is scheduled to leave the European Union on October 31.
The House of Commons' speaker, John Bercow, described the decision as a "constitutional outrage."
"However it is dressed up it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty," he said in a statement.
Watch Boris Johnson defend plan to suspend Parliament
â€œWe're not going to wait until October 31 before getting on with our plans"
Boris Johnson says the move to suspend Parliament will still provide â€œample time... for MPs to debate the EU, to debate #Brexit and all the other issuesâ€https://t.co/rchrc3fO2Y pic.twitter.com/puIiUHAz1U — BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) August 28, 2019
In a letter to all members of Parliament, Johnson defended the decision, saying lawmakers would still have an opportunity to debate Brexit after he has finished negotiations with the EU and before Britain's October 31 exit date.
"Parliament will have the opportunity to debate the Government's overall programme, and approach to Brexit, in the run up to EU Council, and then vote on this on 21 and 22 October, once we know the outcome of the Council," he wrote.
The prime minister told ITV News that MPs would have "ample time" to scrutinize Britain's exit from the EU.
"We need new legislation, we've got to be bringing forward new and important bills, and that's why we are going to have a Queen's Speech and we are going to do it on October 14 and we have got to move ahead now with a new legislative program," he said.
"If you look at what we are doing, we are bringing forward a new legislative program on crime, on hospitals, making sure that we have the education funding that we need and there will be ample time on both sides of that crucial October 17 summit.
"Ample time in Parliament for MPs to debate the EU to debate Brexit and all the other issues. Ample time."
Under Johnson's timetable, his government would deliver the Queen's Speech - its policy agenda for that session of Parliament - on Monday, October 14. A Queen's Speech usually comes with five days of parliamentary debate.
'Deeply undemocratic, unconstitutional and fundamentally political'
Former Conservative Chancellor Philip Hammond condemned the move.
"It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis," he tweeted. "Profoundly undemocratic."
Johnson's opponents urged him to think again. "Shutting down Parliament would be an act of cowardice from Boris Johnson," the Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said.
"He knows the people would not choose a No Deal and that elected representatives wouldn't allow it. He is trying to stifle their voices. "By suspending Parliament to force through a No Deal, Boris Johnson and the Government would remove the voice of the people at the most important time. It is a dangerous and unacceptable course of action which the Liberal Democrats will strongly oppose."
Brexit opponents said Johnson's move was an act of tyranny and called on the Queen to step in.
"It would make no sense for the Queen to back this deeply undemocratic, unconstitutional and fundamentally political manoeuvre from the government," Naomi Smith, the CEO of the pro-EU group Best for Britain, said.
"If the Queen is asked to help, she would do well to remember history doesn't look too kindly on royals who aid and abet the suspension of democracy."
During the Conservative leadership contest, Johnson played down the prospect of his suspending Parliament as prime minister, saying it was a course of action that he was "not attracted to."
His move to do so sets up what will almost certainly be a frantic few days in the House of Commons in which MPs on all sides work furiously to prevent the UK from leaving the EU without a deal on October 31.
This would most likely come in the form of legislation, with the Financial Times reporting that MPs planned to take control of the House of Commons order paper and legislate for a further extension to the Article 50 process.
However, MPs opposed to no deal are ready to bring Johnson down in a no-confidence vote if necessary.
About 160 MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit gathered in Church House, near the Houses of Parliament, on Tuesday and signed a pledge to prevent a no-deal exit "using whatever mechanism possible."
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