What Is Proroguing? Why Are Brexiteers Considering It? When Has It Been Used Before?

7 June 2019, 12:52 | Updated: 7 June 2019, 12:53

The Houses of Parliament.
The Houses of Parliament. Picture: PA

The term "proroguing" has been in the news surrounding Brexit after comments by one Tory leadership hopeful, but what does it actually mean?

Prorogation means the end of a parliamentary session.

What is proroguing Parliament? 

It is the name given to the time between the end of one Parliamentary session and the State Opening of another. The parliamentary session may also be prorogued before Parliament is dissolved. It normally happens once a year.

Parliament would be empty if it were prorogued.
Parliament would be empty if it were prorogued. Picture: PA

What Happens when Parliament is prorogued?

On the advice of the Privy Council, a group of Royal advisors mainly made up of members of the House of Commons and Lords, The Queen formally dissolves the parliamentary session.

This normally comes via an announcement, on behalf of the Queen. The announcement is read in the House of Lords and MPs file into the Lords chamber to listen to the speech.

Following the reading of the announcement both the House of Commons and House of Lords are officially prorogued and will not sit again until the State Opening of Parliament.

The official announcement normally takes the form of a Government report card which sets out the major bills that have passed during the session of Parliament, it also describes the other major Government victories during that time.

Dominic Raab, the former Brexit Secretary.
Dominic Raab, the former Brexit Secretary. Picture: PA

Why are Brexiteers considering proroguing Parliament?

Tory leadership candidate Dominic Raab provoked anger after he refused to rule out ending the current Parliamentary session.

In theory a new Prime Minister could advise the Queen to prorogue Parliament, this would mean that Parliament was closed and MPs would not be able to stop, what would be, an inevitable no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

Charles I, Portrait by van Dyck, c. 1635
Charles I, Portrait by van Dyck, c. 1635. Picture: Wikipedia

When has Parliament been Prorogued before?

When Amber Rudd was talking to reporters about Mr Raab she said it was "outrageous to consider proroguing Parliament".

She said:"We are not Stuart kings."

Mrs Rudd's Stuart King reference harkened back to 1629, when Stuart King, Charles I prorogued Parliament because they refused to give him financial support, he ruled for 11 years without Parliament.

Those 11 years are known as the  "eleven years' tyranny."

However, only Parliament, were able to  legally raise taxes, and without it Charles's ability to gather money was limited, 

Normally, Parliament is normally prorogued at the end of every parliamentary year, which currently runs from spring to spring. Prorogation also happened before the 2015 General Election.