Parliament will be suspended just days after MPs return from their summer recess until the 14th October – leaving only two weeks before the Brexit deadline.
Earlier today, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked the Queen to prorogue (suspend) parliament in an apparent attempt to force through a no-deal Brexit. The suspension means opposition MPs will find it significantly more challenging to pass the necessary legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
Many high profile figures have expressed their outrage. House of Commons’ Speaker John Bercow labelled the decision a “constitutional outrage”. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said “[he was] appalled at the recklessness of Johnson’s government”. SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon said Johnson “[is] acting like a tin pot dictator” and Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson branded the decision as a “dangerous and unacceptable course of action”.
The government have defended their decision with Leader of the House Jacob Rees Mogg saying the suspension was a “completely proper constitutional procedure”. Although many within Boris Johnson’s Party are not convinced and have expressed their disappointment. Former Attorney General Dominic Green called the decision “deeply questionable and frankly pretty outrageous.” Former Chancellor Philip Hammond called it “profoundly undemocratic”.
Multiple legal challenges have already been launched against the PM’s decision. A group of 75 MPs has launched proceedings in the Court of Session (Scotland’s Supreme Civil Court) asking for an interim interdict (injunction) against the decision which would block the suspension until the full hearing on the 6th September – the court is expected to consider the motion on Thursday or Friday.
Gina Miller has also made an application for Judicial Review of the Prime Minister’s decision to the High Court. She said, “If the intention of using this prorogation – and the effect – is that it limits Parliament sovereignty, then we believe that’s illegal and unconstitutional.”
Boris Johnson’s decision sets a dangerous precedent that the executive can simply ignore the legislature when they disagree. The fundamental basis of a parliamentary democracy is that the people hold the government to account through their elected MPs, which can’t happen when parliament is suspended. It is now up to all MPs to abandon party tribalism and oppose this outrageous and unprecedented executive power grab in order to preserve our democracy. So what happens now? As with all issues concerning Brexit – nobody knows.