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'Shame on you': Chaos in House of Commons as MPs attempt to block suspension of parliament

The five-week suspension of parliament began in the early hours of this morning.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

BELEAGUERED BRITISH PRIME Minister Boris Johnson vowed to continue in his attempts to strike a new Brexit deal with Brussels amid chaotic scenes in the House of Commons in the early hours of this morning.

Rebellious MPs sang, chanted and attempted to block Speaker John Bercow from entering the House of Lords after voting to reject Johnson’s second attempt to call a general election last night.

In exceptional scenes as the parliament shut down for five weeks, opposition Labour MPs waved signs reading “silenced”, while one tried to restrain the speaker to prevent him leaving for the House of Lords for the prorogation ceremony.

Opposition MPs jeered and chanted “shame on you” as government MPs left the chamber, while Bercow, in protest, called the suspension “an act of executive fiat”.

Later, Scottish and Welsh MPs began to sing as they waited for Bercow to return from the House of Lords where the prorogation ceremony was taking place, passing the time as opposition MPs remained in the House of Commons to protest against the move.

Earlier, Johnson had hit out at opposition MPs for voting against his call for a snap election next month during the final minutes of a late-night debate that preceded his controversial move to prorogue parliament for five weeks.

“While the opposition run from their duty to answer to those who put us here, they cannot hide forever,” he said.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

It was a final show of defiance in a parliamentary session in which Johnson also lost a vote, which called on the government to publish confidential papers about the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit.

The opposition has said it will not allow an early election, which under British law requires a two-thirds majority in parliament in favour, until Johnson has either struck a deal or asked for an extension of Article 50 beyond 31 October.

But Johnson insisted he would not delay Brexit, despite the passing of a bill that could force him to do so if he fails to reach an agreement with the EU.

“This government will not delay Brexit any further,” he insisted.

‘Do or die’

The prorogation – or suspension – of parliament will now take effect for the next five weeks.

Critics of Johnson have hit out at the tactic, arguing that it is a means of driving through the government’s “do or die” Brexit plans, leaving MPs with little time to debate the final Brexit outcome before 31 October deadline. 

Parliament is due to return on 14 October, with Johnson’s last chance to reach an agreement at the two-day EU summit starting on 17 October.

Johnson says he wants to revise the deal agreed by his predecessor, Theresa May, which MPs rejected, but says this requires keeping open the option of walking away.

His wafer-thin majority in the Commons vanished last week when he expelled 21 of his own Conservative MPs for voting with Labour on the anti-no deal legislation.

Some commentators have said Johnson may be forced to resign if he does not want to make the delay request. Ministers have also hinted at a potential legal challenge against the law.

The Benn bill – which became law on Monday – would force Johnson to delay Brexit until January or later if he cannot get a deal with Brussels.

The bill’s passage through parliament prompted anger from the government.

But Bercow, accused by eurosceptics of being biased against Brexit, warned the government that it could not now ignore parliament as he announced that he will step down on 31 October.

“We degrade this parliament at our peril,” he warned lawmakers, to a sustained ovation from largely opposition MPs.

With reporting from - © AFP 2019.

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