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The Queen has approved the suspension of parliament ahead of the Brexit deadline

Boris Johnson’s move has been met with outrage by opposition parties, and a court challenge is being brought forward.

Updated Aug 28th 2019, 5:35 PM

  • Boris Johnson asked the queen this morning to prorogue parliament from 9 September – 14 October, citing the length of the current 340-day parliament session as his reason
  • This afternoon, Queen Elizabeth approved his request
  • Speaker John Bercow has said it’s “blindingly obvious” that this is to stifle a parliamentary debate on Brexit, but Johnson has said this is “completely untrue”
  • Votes on the government’s agenda (aka the Queen’s Speech) are to be held on 21 and 22 October
  • Anti no-deal MPs will take legal action in Edinburgh to stop prorogation 
  • Ireland’s Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said strong consideration will be given to a recall of the Dáil

THE QUEEN HAS approved the UK government’s request to suspend the UK parliament for five weeks when MPs return to the House of Commons next month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to the Queen this morning about suspending parliament from the second week in September until 14 October, less than two weeks before the UK is set to leave the European Union.

In a statement released at 3pm this afternoon, five hours after Johnson publicly confirmed that he was making the request, the Privy Council said:

It is this day ordered by Her Majesty in Council that the parliament be prorogued on a day no earlier than Monday the 9th day of September and no later than Thursday the 12th day of September 2019 to Monday the 14th day of October 2019.

The move limits the time available to opposition MPs hoping to pass new laws that could prevent a no-deal Brexit before 31 October. 

britain-brexit A letter sent by Boris Johnson to Tory MPs. Source: AP/PA Images

In a letter to MPs this morning, Johnson said the current session needed to come to a close, and that he would schedule a Queen’s Speech – laying out the government’s plans – to launch new legislation in October.

“We need to get on with our domestic agenda and that is why we are announcing a Queen’s Speech for 14 October,” he said in a Sky News interview, before dismissing criticism that the move would leave MPs with no time to debate and vote on Brexit.

“That is completely untrue. If you look at what we’re doing, we’re bringing forward a new legislative programme…,” he said.

Votes in October

In a statement released by No 10 Downing Street, Johnson said that the decision is being made to end the longest parliamentary session in almost 400 years. The current session has lasted 340 days.

“There will be ample time on both sides of that crucial 17 October [EU] summit, ample time in parliament for MPs to debate the EU, to debate Brexit and all the other issues; ample time,” Johnson said.

The No 10 statement said that votes on the Queen’s Speech are likely to be held on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 October – just 10 days out from the Brexit deadline.

These votes are likely to focus on whether MPs agree with Johnson’s no-deal Brexit approach.

The Prime Minister said: “I believe it is vital that Parliament is sitting both before and after European Council and if, as I hope, a deal with the EU is forthcoming, Parliament will then have the opportunity to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill required for ratification ahead of 31 October.”

Following today’s announcement, a petition against the suspension is garnering big numbers by the minute: 

The value of the pound has also plummeted following the news, which was met with strong criticism from the opposition. Some activists are planning a protest in the centre of London this evening. 

‘A constitutional outrage’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has written to the Queen expressing concern about Johnson’s move. 

“I have protested in the strongest possible terms on behalf of my party and all the other opposition parties that are going to join in with this in saying that suspending parliament is not acceptable, It’s not on,” Johnson said in a video reaction. 

US President Donald Trump weighed in on today’s political happenings, tweeting that Corbyn would find it difficult to get a motion of no confidence against Johnson passed:

Here at home, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said a request from Green Party leader Eamon Ryan to recall the Dáil from its summer break will be “seriously considered”.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One Donohoe said his focus is getting Ireland ready for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, reiterating that it is a growing, material risk. 

When asked if today’s developments in the UK will mean changes to the Irish backstop, the minister was clear, replying: “No.”

Labour MP Yvette Cooper described the proposal as “deeply dangerous and irresponsible”, while the Brexit spokesman for the Liberal Democrats Tom Brake said it was a “declaration of war” that would be ”met with an iron fist”.

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon called on MPs to prevent the suspension of parliament, warning that today “would go down in history as a dark one…for UK democracy” if they did not.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said that her party welcomed prorogation, but did not mention Brexit in her statement: “This has been the longest parliamentary session since the Union of England and Scotland in 1707.”

Brexit Party leader and arch-Eurosceptic Nigel Farage has said that the government’s announcement today makes “a confidence motion now certain, a general election more likely and is seen as a positive move by Brexiteers”.

House Speaker John Bercow released a statement to say that the move was “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 in shaping a course for the country.

Former Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis. Profoundly undemocratic.”

Court bid 

boris-johnson-commons-statement

In the wake of today’s developments a group of politicians have asked a court in Scotland to block Johnson’s bid to suspend parliament. 

A court challenge had initially been scheduled for Friday week, but they are now seeking an interim order that would prevent parliament being suspended until that date. It’s expected the court will hear the motion tomorrow or Friday. 

The long length of prorogation notwithstanding, the government isn’t breaking any law by suspending parliament, only using a parliamentary procedure.

What is proroguing?

The suspension of parliament is known as prorogation, which is different from the dissolution of the House of Commons, which would bring about a general election.

The power to prorogue parliament rests solely with the British monarch – this means only the Queen can prorogue parliament, something she can do only after a request from the prime minister.

The UK has no written constitution so there has been some debate as to whether the Queen could refuse the request and, if so, in what circumstances.

- with additional reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha, Daragh Brophy and Christina Finn 

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