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Former British PM John Major threatens legal action if new UK leader suspends parliament over Brexit

The idea has been suggested during the Tory leadership campaign.

Image: PA Images

FORMER BRITISH PRIME Minister Sir John Major has pledged to launch a legal challenge if the country’s next leader suspends parliament over Brexit.

Major, who led the UK between 1990 and 1997, said the possibility that parliament could be prorogued to force through a no-deal Brexit was “utterly and totally unacceptable”.

He told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme:

You cannot and should not bypass parliament in this fashion, and I cannot imagine how anybody could conceivably think that is right.

Proroguing marks the end of a parliamentary session, and would mean the suspension of the British parliament without its dissolution.

If it were to happen, it would mean the end of all parliamentary business during that session, and MPs would not be able to participate in any parliamentary business – including the launching of new bills – until the start of a new session.

It has been suggested that parliament could be prorogued in order to force through Brexit on 31 October, as any legislation which could block the UK’s exit from the EU would be off the table, and MPs would not be able to table motions to stop it.

The idea has been a feature of the Tory leadership campaign, with front-runner Boris Johnson refusing to rule it out.

However, proroguing parliament requires permission from the Queen, something which Major suggested could initiate a constitutional crisis.

“If her first minister asks for that permission, it is almost inconceivable that the Queen will do anything other than grant it; she’s advised by her first minister so she will grant it.”

EU Brexit Sir John Major called the idea of proroguing parliament 'unacceptable' Source: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Images

Major claimed that there would be numerous calls for a judicial review of any decision to prorogue parliament, before saying that he would challenge such a decision if it was made.

“The Queen’s decision cannot be challenged in law, but the Prime Minister’s advice to the Queen can, I believe, be challenged in law” he said.

“And I, for one, would be prepared to go and seek judicial review to prevent parliament from being bypassed.”

He added that he did not know if Boris Johnson would actually prorogue parliament if he became Prime Minster, but said that the former foreign secretary could only be taken at his word.

Yesterday, the government published new documents on its plans for a no-deal Brexit, which outlined the possibility of customs checks at Irish ports and airports.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that the Irish government was still in discussions with the EU Commission about how to protect the EU Single Market, so as to ensure the border with Northern Ireland did not become a “backdoor”.

He added that a no-deal Brexit would be a “very, very difficult issue for Ireland to deal with” which would have “profound” economic implications for Ireland on “all levels”.

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