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Nicola Sturgeon accuses PM of acting like dictator on ‘dark day for democracy’

The SNP leader pledged the PM’s plan would be ‘fiercely resisted’ by her party.

Nicola Sturgeon with Boris Johnson (PA)
Nicola Sturgeon with Boris Johnson (PA)

By Lewis McKenzie, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Nicola Sturgeon has hit out at the Prime Minister over his bid to suspend Parliament, accusing Boris Johnson of acting like a “dictator” by pushing through an “outrageous assault on basic democratic principles”.

The Scottish First Minister joined a chorus of outrage at the PM’s plan, which would see the Commons shut down for more than a month in the run-up to Britain’s European Union departure date.

The Prime Minister’s actions make it “clearer than ever that Scotland cannot be properly served by a shambolic, crumbling Westminster system, and that our future lies as an independent country”, she added.

Mr Johnson, however, insisted there would still be “ample time” for MPs to debate Brexit either side of a crunch EU summit on October 17 – despite seeking a parliamentary suspension from around September 11 until the State Opening on October 14.

But Commons Speaker John Bercow labelled the move a “constitutional outrage”, saying he had not been consulted.

And Ms Sturgeon said: “This is a dark day for democracy. Attempting to shut down Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit is an outrageous assault on basic democratic principles.

“In doing so, Boris Johnson is acting more like a dictator than a prime minister in what is still supposed to be a parliamentary democracy.

“Instead of this abuse of process Boris Johnson should have the courage of his convictions and call a general election.”

The SNP leader pledged the PM’s plan would be “fiercely resisted” by her party and other opposition politicians in the House of Commons, urging Conservatives who are “concerned about the direction their party and government is taking” to speak out against the Government.

Ms Sturgeon also called on Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson to join in actions to try to halt Mr Johnson, stating that she “keeps telling us she opposes a no-deal Brexit – today she must say what she will do to help stop it”.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown however claimed that the Scottish Conservative chief had “gone into hiding”, along with other leading figures in her party.

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Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson was accused of having ‘gone into hiding’. (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack cancelled media interviews which had been scheduled to take place in Edinburgh on Wednesday morning.

Addressing journalists gathered outside the Scotland Office, Mr Jack said: “I’m absolutely delighted the Prime Minister is going to have a Queen’s Speech on October 14.

“It’s a very good step forward in having a Queen’s Speech. We’ve had a long Parliament. We need a Queen’s Speech to deliver, as he said on the steps of Downing Street, an exciting legislative programme for this new government.

“What will then happen is there will be a debate on that and there will be time enough to discuss Brexit and many other things in the Queen’s Speech ahead of us, hopefully getting a good deal from the European Union at the Council of Ministers meeting on October 17.”

Mr Jack added: “This is no different to what we’ve had, bar a few days, every day since Tony Blair’s premiership.

“We have always had a conference recess. This is the conference recess with a few days added on. We don’t need to come back and prorogue Parliament for the Queen’s Speech, we’ll do it before we leave, we’ll have the Queen’s Speech and there’s ample time for debate.”

Amid the outcry a group of more than 70 cross party MPs and peers launched a legal bid to try to stop Mr Johnson from proroguing Parliament.

Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project, which is supporting the move, confirmed a motion had been filed at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie hit out at what he branded “an Eton coup and a democratic outrage”.

He added: “I hope that Ruth Davidson will join the chorus of condemnation that this decision deserves and confirm that Scottish Conservatives will oppose any measures to prevent Parliament having its say.”

Scottish Greens co-Leader Patrick Harvie said: “Boris Johnson led a Leave campaign which cheated and broke the law to win.

“It’s no surprise that now he’s the Prime Minister he is continuing his assault against democracy.

“If we need to ‘take back control’ from anyone, we need to take it back from him.”

PA

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