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Longest parliamentary session in UK history resumes on Wednesday

More than 800 days have passed since the Queen attended the State Opening on June 21 2017.

Sunset behind the Houses of Parliament in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Sunset behind the Houses of Parliament in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Ian Jones, PA

The longest parliamentary session in the history of the United Kingdom resumes on Wednesday, when MPs return to Westminster sooner than expected.

The session had originally come to an end in the early hours of Tuesday September 10, when Parliament was thought to have been prorogued – or suspended – until October 14.

But now that the Supreme Court has ruled the prorogation unlawful, it means the session did not technically end at all.

As such, when MPs return to the House of Commons on Wednesday morning, it will be to continue the existing session of Parliament rather than begin a new one.

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(PA graphic)

The current session formally began on June 21 2017 with the State Opening, including the Queen’s Speech.

As of Wednesday, a total of 826 calendar days have since passed – making it easily the longest continuous parliamentary session since the UK was established by the Acts of Union in 1800.

The previous record-holder was the session of 2010-12, which lasted 707 calendar days from the State Opening on May 25 2010 to prorogation on May 1 2012.

Parliament is typically prorogued once a year, followed shortly afterwards by another State Opening and Queen’s Speech.

But in 2017, the Government announced the current session was to last two years to pass the key legislation needed to allow the UK’s departure from the European Union.

More than two years later, lawful prorogation has yet to take place – and the UK is still a member of the EU.

According to analysis by PA, the 10 longest parliamentary sessions by calendar days have all occurred within the last 70 years.

In joint third place are the sessions that ran from April 1966 to October 1967 and from May 1997 to November 1998, both of which followed Labour election victories and lasted 554 days.

The current session has also broken the record for the most “sitting” days – the number of days of debate in the House of Commons.

This milestone was passed on May 7 2019, when it became the longest session by sitting days since the English Civil War of 1642-51, according to research by the House of Commons Library.

PA

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