Scuffles in Commons as John Bercow blocked from leaving his chair

10 September 2019, 07:38 | Updated: 10 September 2019, 08:14

MPs showed their anger by holding up signs and blocking the speaker from leaving his chair as parliament was suspended last night.

The Commons is being prorogued for five weeks and will not be returning until 14 October - a move which has infuriated MPs hoping to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

During suspension proceedings in the early hours of this morning, MPs shouted "No!" when parliament was asked to prorogue.

A scuffle erupted around the speaker's chair as some opposition MPs held signs emblazoned with the word "silenced" and one tried to stop John Bercow from leaving for the prorogation ceremony in the Lords.

Mr Bercow, who is supposed to remain neutral but has often been outspoken throughout his tenure as speaker, said: "This is not a standard or normal prorogation.

"It's one of the longest for decades and it represents an act of executive fiat."

He was applauded by the opposition as Labour MPs chanted "shame on you!" at government ministers.

The ceremony in the House of Lords, where the royal assent was heard for the suspension of parliament, was boycotted by Labour MPs who stayed in the Commons to sing the Red Flag as members of the SNP sang Flower of Scotland.

MPs will not return to the Commons until little more than two weeks before the Brexit deadline on 31 October.

They had only been sitting for four days following their six-week summer break before parliament was suspended.

The government controversially ordered the suspension of parliament, which some MPs say was politically motivated to prevent scrutiny of the prime minister's Brexit plans.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn branded the prorogation "disgraceful" and said Boris Johnson "appears to be wanting to run away from questions".

But the government says it is the usual proceedings in the run-up to a Queen's Speech, which will be held when parliament returns and will set out policies and plans for the coming year.

According to House of Commons Library statistics, parliament has not been prorogued for longer than three weeks in the last 40 years.

The Queen formally approved the prorogation after three cabinet ministers travelled to Balmoral last month.

This week, the Court of Session will make a ruling on a case brought by a 70-strong group of cross-party MPs which argues that proroguing parliament is unlawful and unconstitutional.

A separate case brought by Remain campaigner Gina Miller and former prime minister Sir John Major to stop the parliamentary suspension was rejected, but the pair are in the process of appealing.