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31 August 2019, 12:26
Cross-bench peer Lord Kerr tells Matt Frei suspending parliament would be "a coup" if opposition MPs fail to stop prorogation.
With protests against Boris Johnson's plans to prorogue Parliament set to start across the country, Lord John Kerr discussed whether he thought the PM's plans were appropriate.
The former chief diplomat used the previous prime minister John Major, who is looking to take Boris Johnson to court, as an example of how "strange" the current political situation was.
He told Matt Frei: "John Major is absolutely not a revolutionary. John Major is not a natural rebel.
"It is something very strange when you get our most senior ex-prime minister, Tory through and through taking a Tory prime minister to court for doing something that he believes is unconstitutional.
The Lord expressed his concern about how suspending parliament meant that the House of Commons could not perform its duty as a scrutinising body.
Matt Frei responded by saying that this is a time when scrutiny is needed the most due to the looming deadline of the UK leaving the EU on 31 October.
The LBC presenter continued and agreed that John Major was not a rebel, but he was unsure of those opposed to prorogation using the word 'coup'.
He said: "Will you go so far, as many have done, to say that this is a coup? That's a big word, that's a loaded word. It's been used in the demonstrations today. Hashtag stop the coup."
Lord Kerr replied: "I think that if you believe in democracy, and we have a representative democracy, you cannot send Parliament away."
Matt Frei interrupted: "But is it a coup?'
After a moment's hesitation, the peer replied: "If it comes off, yes I think it's a coup. I'm not sure it's going to come off, I think it's conceivably still stoppable."
Lord Kerr continued by telling Matt Frei how the almost month-long prorogation would leave little time for the Commons to properly discuss any withdrawal agreement and no real chance to scrutinise anything the EU27 agree with the PM's Brexit team.
He said: "We will not have scrutinised at al what it is the government are saying to the 27. We will not know what they are saying and we will not have any chance to influence that.
"That can't be right."