Everything You Need To Know About Boris Johnson's Plan To Suspend Parliament

28 August 2019, 12:28 | Updated: 28 August 2019, 17:15

Boris Johnson has asked the Queen to suspend parliament from the middle of next month.
Boris Johnson has asked the Queen to suspend parliament from the middle of next month. Picture: PA

The Prime Minister has asked the Queen to end the current parliamentary session in the second week of September, before commencing the second session of this Parliament with a Queen's speech on 14 October.

Under the plan announced today by the government, parliament will be prorogued from the week beginning 9 September until 14 October.

The move will see parliament lose many sitting days prior to the Brexit deadline on 31 October.

The move has sparked political outrage, with many opposition MPs calling it "undemocratic" and saying that Boris Johnson is acting like a "tin-pot dictator".

Opposition MPs have suggested that the Prime Minister is doing this to reduce the time they have to stop a no-deal Brexit
Opposition MPs have suggested that the Prime Minister is doing this to reduce the time they have to stop a no-deal Brexit. Picture: PA

What is prorogation?

Prorogation is the end of a parliamentary session - the same as suspending parliament.

It is not the same as dissolution, which is the formal end of parliament.

According to Parliament.UK, "it is the formal name given to the period between the end of a session of Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session. The parliamentary session may also be prorogued before Parliament is dissolved."

It means that MPs would not be attending parliament, and could not do anything in the Commons to stop or delay Brexit.

What is the Queen's speech?

The Queen makes a speech to mark the state opening of parliament, where she lays out the government's plans for the new parliamentary session.

If the government prorogues parliament, the Queen's speech is expected on 14th October.

The Queen's speech, to open the new parliamentary session, is expected on 14th October.
The Queen's speech, to open the new parliamentary session, is expected on 14th October. Picture: PA

When will parliament be suspended?

Reports suggest that parliament will only sit for a brief period, from around 3rd September to 11th September before being suspended.

MPs will then return to parliament just two week before the 31 October Brexit deadline.

Mr Johnson said parliament would be suspended days after MPs return from their summer recess next week and would only resume for a Queen’s Speech on 14 October.

Parliament will not sit from the second week of September, meaning there will be just over week between MPs returning from their summer break and the suspension beginning.

Boris Johnson's plan gives MPs just two weeks in parliament before the Brexit deadline.
Boris Johnson's plan gives MPs just two weeks in parliament before the Brexit deadline. Picture: PA

Can the Queen stop it?

In theory, yes, as her permission is needed to suspend parliament.

However, as Head of State the Queen has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters.

If she goes against a UK prime minister it would trigger a constitutional crisis.

What is the privy council?

The Privy Council is the formal body of advisers to the Queen, made up of senior politicians and ex-politicians who advise the Queen on the exercise of the Royal Prerogative.

Parliament can only be prorogued with the Queen's permission on the advice of the Privy Council.

Why is Boris Johnson doing this?

It's been suggested that the move would hamper the efforts of remain MPs to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

It would effectively give opposition MPs too little time to stop the Prime Minister taking the UK out of the EU.

Boris Johnson has said accusations that he is trying to force through a no-deal Brexit are "completely untrue"

He argued, ”we’ve got to move ahead now with a new legislative programme, and there will be ample time on both sides of that crucial 17 October summit, in parliament, for MPs to debate the EU, to debate Brexit, and all the other issues.”

In a letter to MPs, the Prime Minister said he was bringing forward a "bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda" which MPs would be able to vote on in October.

He continued, "there will be a significant Brexit legislative programme to get through but that should be no excuse for a lack of ambition!"

Boris Johnson has written a two page letter to MPs to set out his plans to suspend parliament to prepare for a Queen's Speech on 14 October.
Boris Johnson has written a two page letter to MPs to set out his plans to suspend parliament to prepare for a Queen's Speech on 14 October. Picture: PA

What is the reaction?

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "I am appalled at the recklessness of Johnson's government, which talks about sovereignty and yet is seeking to suspend parliament to avoid scrutiny of its plans for a reckless no deal Brexit."

"This is an outrage and a threat to our democracy."

Jeremy Corbyn has called the move "a threat to our democracy".
Jeremy Corbyn has called the move "a threat to our democracy". Picture: PA

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "So it seems that Boris Johnson may actually be about to shut down Parliament to force through a no deal Brexit. Unless MPs come together to stop him next week, today will go down in history as a dark one indeed for UK democracy."

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said: “Shutting down parliament would be an act of cowardice from Boris Johnson. 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.”

Independent Group for Change MP Chris Leslie wrote on Twitter: "How totally underhanded of Boris Johnson to make the Queen sign off on this plot it in a secret ceremony up in Balmoral. The House of Commons must assemble and veto this."

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said it was a "constitutional outrage".

The speaker added: "However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of [suspending Parliament] now would be to stop [MPs] debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country."

There was support from some Conservative MPs however. Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly tweeted: "Or to put it another way: Government to hold a Queen's Speech, just as all new Governments do."

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