Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Suspension may be step too far for Boris

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

Editor's Viewpoint

Brexiteers have described leaving the EU as taking back sovereignty, but after Boris Johnson's astonishing move yesterday to set in motion the suspension of parliament for five weeks opponents believe he is guilty of an abuse of power and has set parliament against the executive with daggers drawn.

The move, which is supported by the DUP, is regarded as an attempt to stifle opposition to leaving the EU on October 31 with a deal or no-deal. The Prime Minister denies this saying it is just a manoeuvre to enable the Queen's Speech outlining his domestic policies to be given to parliament, but few really believe that.

Phrases like constitutional crisis, political crisis and abuse of power are being bandied about and there is no doubt that the divisions caused by Brexit have been deepened at a stroke.

This is a high risk stratagem by the Prime Minister as already it has united opponents who were floundering on how to halt his inexorable progress towards a no-deal exit. They are attempting to devise legislative measures to stop a no-deal exit and in Scotland the courts will be asked to reverse the decision to prorogue parliament.

What is undeniable is that Boris Johnson is proving to be an all-action Prime Minister willing to take risks, obviously confident that the Labour opposition is so riven with internal disputes that it is ineffectual. But maybe this could be a step too far.

It certainly poses problems for the DUP. The Ulster Unionists, who are also pro-Brexit, have described the move as an abuse of power, but it can do nothing, like all the rest of the parties in Northern Ireland, to challenge Mr Johnson.

The only party aside from the DUP which has any potential political clout is Sinn Fein. It has seven MPs, but the party refuses to take its seats at Westminster even though it has dropped its abstentionist policy in both Dublin and Belfast.

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The DUP may be rowing against majority opinion in Northern Ireland on Brexit, but it has shown the courage to stand up for its beliefs. It does not want a no-deal exit but there is little evidence of its efforts to make Mr Johnson change his tack.

There is a famous Chinese curse which states 'may you live in interesting times'. That certainly is the case at the moment and as the October 31 deadline approaches, hopes of mitigating a disastrous EU exit for Northern Ireland are receding fast.

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