Live: All the latest as Boris Johnson reveals plan to suspend Parliament
The move by the Prime Minister could limit time for opponents to seek legal changes to block a no-deal Brexit.
Boris Johnson is to seek an extended suspension of Parliament ahead of the Queen’s Speech on October 14 in a move which could hamper efforts by MPs to block a no-deal Brexit.
The Prime Minister’s plan will be considered in a Privy Council meeting at the Queen’s Balmoral estate, according to reports.
Here is the latest:
To invest in our NHS, deal with violent crime and cut the cost of living we need a Queen’s Speech. pic.twitter.com/xux9WIFL8e— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 28, 2019
The value of the pound crashed lower after traders were spooked by news that the Government is expected to suspend Parliament.
Although Sterling recouped some of its losses after going into “freefall” when the news was first announced on Wednesday morning, it still slumped to a six-day low.
Sterling slid 0.74% to 1.2196 against the dollar in early trading while it also fell 0.77% to 1.0993 against the euro.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament was “an outrage and a threat to our democracy”.
The Islington North MP 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.
“That is why Labour has been working across Parliament to hold this reckless Government to account and prevent a disastrous no-deal which parliament has already ruled out.
“If Johnson has confidence in his plans he should put them to the people in a general election or public vote.”
One of the UK’s largest trade unions labelled the moves to prorogue Parliament a “coup”.
GMB, representing more than 600,000 people across the country, said the move was “worrying for the very foundations of our democracy”.
General secretary Tim Roache said: “This is now going even further than a backroom Westminster stitch-up, it’s a coup that leaves far too much power in the hands of an unelected Prime Minister.”
Responding to reports that Downing Street would call an election in the event of losing a no-confidence vote, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Bring it on.”
She added: “Have the courage of your convictions, Boris Johnson. Call an election now – with polling day before Oct 31 – and let the people vote. Or are you frit?”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tweeted: “Boris Johnson is acting like a dictator by attempting to shut down democracy to impose an extreme Brexit. He has no mandate, no majority, and he must be stopped. The SNP will be doing everything we can to stop Brexit and prevent a No-Deal disaster.”
The government's announcement today makes a confidence motion now certain, a general election more likely and is seen as a positive move by Brexiteers.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) August 28, 2019
The unanswered question is whether Boris Johnson intends to pursue the Withdrawal Agreement.
A cross-party group of more than 70 MPs and peers are considering seeking an interim interdict in the Court of Session to block prorogation of Parliament.
Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray said that Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament is “an assault on our democracy”.
“This is the people’s parliament and the people deserve to have their representatives in Parliament during this vital period,” said Mr Murray.
“This is the opposite of taking back control. Legal action to prevent the Prime Minister suspending Parliament has already been fast-tracked through the courts and the legal team will now consider the appropriate next steps, including seeking interim orders.”
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, commenting on the move to prorogue Parliament in preparation for a Queen’s speech on October 14, said: “I have had no contact from the Government, but if the reports that it is seeking to prorogue Parliament are confirmed, this move represents a constitutional outrage.
“However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country. At this time, one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, it is vital that our elected Parliament has its say. After all, we live in a parliamentary democracy.
“Shutting down Parliament would be an offence against the democratic process and the rights of Parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives.
“Surely at this early stage in his premiership, the Prime Minister should be seeking to establish rather than undermine his democratic credentials and indeed his commitment to Parliamentary democracy.
“My family and I are away on holiday and I will make no further comment at this stage.”
Here is the letter written by Mr Johnson to MPs outlining his Government’s plans:
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, tweeted: “Hopefully Tory MPs who thought they could ‘wait and see’ can now see plainly that they need to get behind the legislative plan discussed by Opposition leaders yesterday. Fast. Or play along with Johnson destroying Parliamentary democracy while pretending to ‘take back control’.”
It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis. Profoundly undemocratic.— Philip Hammond (@PhilipHammondUK) August 28, 2019
Make no mistake, this is a very British coup. Whatever one’s views on Brexit, once you allow a Prime Minister to prevent the full and free operation of our democratic institutions you are on a very precarious path. https://t.co/9kwmw8i6E1— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) August 28, 2019
In a letter to MPs outlining his Government’s plans, Mr Johnson said he was bringing forward a “bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda” which MPs would be able to vote on in October.
He said: “This morning I spoke to Her Majesty The Queen to request an end to the current parliamentary session in the second sitting week in September, before commencing the second session of this Parliament with a Queen’s speech on Monday October 14.
“A central feature of the legislative programme will be the Government’s number one legislative priority, if a new deal is forthcoming at EU Council, to introduce a Withdrawal Agreement Bill and move at pace to secure its passage before October 31.
“I also believe it is vitally important that the key votes associated with the Queen’s Speech and any deal with the EU fall at a time when parliamentarians are best placed to judge the Government’s programme.
“Parliament will have the opportunity to debate the Government’s overall programme, and approach to Brexit, in the run up to EU Council, and then vote on this on 21 and 22 October, once we know the outcome of the Council.
“Should I succeed in agreeing a deal with the EU, Parliament will then have the opportunity to pass the Bill required for ratification of the deal ahead of 31 October.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was one of the first to react earlier in the day when reports emerged:
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. https://t.co/68lFnEgiyr— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 28, 2019
Independent MP Nick Boles, who left the Conservatives earlier this year, tweeted: “The government’s plan to prorogue Parliament until 14 Oct clarifies the choice for MPs who want to stop a No Deal Brexit.
“If they don’t support legislative steps next week, there will be no second chance. Hopefully this will stiffen backbones and concentrate minds.”
Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson tweeted: “By suspending Parliament to force through a No Deal, Boris Johnson and the Government would remove the voice of the people. It is a dangerous and unacceptable course of action which the @LibDems will strongly oppose.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that it is “completely untrue” he will be holding a Queen’s Speech on October 14 because of Brexit, insisting that he had a new government with an “exciting agenda” that requires new legislation.