Johnson plan to suspend UK parliament sparks anger
The prime minister says it is 'business as usual' and there is no underhand methodology.
Conservative MP Boris Johnson gestures as he answers questions from journalist Iain Dale as he takes part in a Conservative Party leadership hustings event in Birmingham, central England on June 22, 2019. Picture: Oli SCARFF / AFP
Queen Elizabeth II will be asked on Wednesday to approve a plan to suspend the United Kingdom’s parliament in order to push through a “no-deal” withdrawal from the European Union, it has emerged.
MPs are due to return to work after their summer holidays next Tuesday, but the parliamentary session will likely be suspended by the end of the week.
On Tuesday, six opposition parties came together to pledge unified legislative action to block a no-deal Brexit, likely by forcing through a new law to delay the Brexit date. Many economists, politicians and experts agree this would be disastrous for the UK economy.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly vowed that Britain would leave the EU with or without a deal – “do or die” in his words – on October 31.
“A constitutional outrage plain and simple,” tweeted Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner of the opposition Labour party.
“Charles 1st did this regularly, which caused chaos, now an unelected PM seeking to shut parliament down for his own political gain, this isn’t taking back democracy, this is destroying democracy.”
Parliament is normally suspended for a brief period in the autumn, during which political parties hold their main conferences. When they return, a new session is formally opened amid great pomp and ceremony with “the Queen’s speech” announcing the government’s new legislative agenda for the coming year.
But the plan suggested on Wednesday would involve delaying MPs’ return after conference season until October 14, ensuring no parliamentary time could be dedicated to avoiding Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal. There is a European Council meeting, dedicated to Brexit, on October 17 and 18.
Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from London, said: “Boris Johnson has always threatened he could suspend parliament – he has never ruled it out. That now looks like exactly what he is going to do.
“It is the most confrontational thing you can imagine he could do in the face of this rebellion.”
Johnson said it was “business as usual” and there was no underhand methodology to prevent elected representatives from putting forward legislation.
“All you should take from this is that we must get on now with our domestic agenda,” he said.
Change UK MP Anna Soubry responded: “That is the very clever spin that is being put on this by Mr Johnson and his unelected advisers. No one should be fooled, this is nothing to do with putting forward an agenda. Our country is in crisis.”
With no time to introduce legislation, options are limited for those looking to stop a no-deal Brexit.
“What they can do, and this looks like it might be back on the table, is a confidence vote in the government,” said Al Jazeera’s Lee.
“To pass, it might have to take 20-30 Conservative MPs to rebel against their own party. Do they have the numbers for passing that? Maybe not.”