LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament has prompted an angry backlash from MPs and opponents of a no-deal Brexit. It sparked protests across the country, a legal challenge and a petition with more than a million signatures.
The government said the five-week suspension in September and October will still allow time to debate Brexit. Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the outrage was “phoney”, and that the move was “constitutional and proper”.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a Queen’s Speech would take place after the suspension, on 14 October, to outline his “very exciting agenda”.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the suspension, which was approved by the Queen on Wednesday, was “certainly not” a political move to obstruct opposition to the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
Mr Rees-Mogg said this parliamentary session had been one of the longest in almost 400 years, so it was right to suspend it and start a new session. MPs voted by 498 votes to 114 to leave the EU by triggering Article 50 in February 2017. That began the countdown to the UK’s departure, which is now just over two months away.
Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament weeks before Britain’s European Union departure date faced legal challenges on Thursday following a furious outcry from pro-Europeans and MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit.
The Conservative leader announced the surprise decision on Wednesday to dismiss parliament — known as proroguing — for nearly five weeks next month, claiming it was necessary to allow him to pursue a “bold and ambitious” new domestic agenda.
But the move sent shockwaves through the British political system, which relies on centuries of precedents and conventions instead of a codified constitution.
Opponents labelled the suspension a “coup” and a “constitutional outrage” and it prompted immediate court bids in London and Edinburgh to halt the process.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, denounced the move as “a smash-and-grab against democracy” and reiterated that he may call a no-confidence vote in Johnson’s government, which commands a majority of just one seat.
Labour’s Barry Gardiner said on Thursday that the party would push for an emergency debate when parliament returned on Monday to kickstart the legislative process to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
Former Conservative chancellor Philip Hammond also pledged to keep fighting against no deal.“It would be a constitutional outrage if parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis,” he said.
Protest in London
Thousands of people protested in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and other cities, while an online petition seeking to block the decision had garnered more than 1.2 million signatures by early Thursday. At the biggest rally, crowds gathered near parliament in London chanting “stop the coup” and waving EU flags.
Queen Elizabeth II approved the request to end what has been the longest session of parliament in nearly 400 years in the second week of September and reopen it on October 14 — just over two weeks before Brexit.
The House of Commons typically goes into recess around the annual party conference season, which kicks off on September 14 and ends on October 2, but critics slammed this more lengthy break.