WORLD NEWS

Queen Approves Boris Johnson's Plan To Suspend Parliament As No-Deal Brexit Fears Mount

The move means that Parliament would have just days to use legislation to stop the U.K. from leaving the EU with no deal on Oct. 31.

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth has approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament days after members of the body return to work.

After a meeting of the privy council at the queen’s holiday home at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the monarch backed Johnson’s request for Parliament to be “prorogued” between Sept. 9 and Oct. 14.

The government has said suspending Parliament will make way for Johnson’s new administration to hold a Queen’s Speech ― laying out the government’s future plans ― on Oct. 14. 

Opposition members of Parliament have today reacted with outrage over the move, which they say severely restricts their ability to scrutinize the government’s Brexit plans.

The move also means the so-called Remain alliance faces a race against time and has just days of parliamentary business to stop a no-deal Brexit from occurring on Oct. 31.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson issues a statement to the House of Commons in London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson issues a statement to the House of Commons in London.

Johnson told Sky News it is “completely untrue” he is attempting to squash opponents’ attempts to block a no-deal Brexit and that he wants to set out a fresh domestic agenda. 

He said: “There will be ample time on both sides of that crucial October 17 [EU] summit in parliament for MPs to debate the EU, debate Brexit.”

But MPs have reacted with fury to the news and have called the move an affront to democracy. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was ”appalled at the recklessness of Johnson’s government.” 

“This is an outrage and a threat to our democracy,” he said, adding: “If Johnson has confidence in his plans he should put them to the people in a general election or public vote.”

According to The Guardian, Corbyn has asked to meet the queen to raise his concerns about Johnson’s plans.

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond said: “It would be a constitutional outrage if parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis. Profoundly undemocratic.”

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson tweeted: “We do not have a ‘new government.’ This action is an utterly scandalous affront to our democracy. We cannot let this happen.”

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.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas said on Twitter: “Wasn’t this meant to be about ‘taking back control’? The act of a cowardly prime minister who knows his reckless no-deal Brexit will never gain the support of MPs. A constitutional outrage which parliament and the people will oppose.”

The act of a cowardly prime minister who knows his reckless no-deal Brexit will never gain the support of MPs. Green MP Caroline Lucas

In response to the report, Independent Group for Change MP Chris Leslie wrote on Twitter: “If true, this undemocratic manoeuvre to try and shut down parliament must be fought every step of the way.

“How totally underhanded of Boris Johnson to make the Queen sign off on this plot it in a secret ceremony up in Balmoral. The House of Commons must assemble and veto this.”

The shadow foreign secretary for the Liberal Democrats, Chuka Umunna, wrote on Twitter: “The prime minister is behaving like a tin-pot dictator, pure and simple, and parliament will not stand for it.” 

Labour MP and former government minister Yvette Cooper, who led previous attempts to stop then-Prime Minister Theresa May from presiding over a no-deal Brexit, tweeted: “Boris Johnson is trying to use the Queen to concentrate power in his own hands – this is a deeply dangerous and irresponsible way to govern.”

Craig Oliver, who was Downing Street director of communications under David Cameron, tweeted: “I suspect Number 10 believes it has created a win win scenario with this explosive announcement. Yes – and they get Brexit by October 31st; No – and they get to fight a ‘people versus parliament’ general election.”

Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly attempted to quell fears Johnson was evading parliamentary scrutiny over Brexit, however.

He tweeted: “Or to put it another way: Government to hold a Queen’s Speech, just as all new governments do.”

It comes after Jeremy Corbyn met with senior opposition MPs and agreed they will table new legislation in order to force Johnson to seek an extension to the Article 50 Brexit deadline. 

But, as the queen has agreed to the move, they could be left without the time to pass their plans, which they say have a majority in the Commons. 

HuffPost U.K. learned Tuesday that opposition MPs could be forced to seek a last-minute High Court injunction in order to stop Johnson from suspending Parliament. 

Johnson, who has repeatedly insisted he wants a Brexit deal but is willing to take the U.K. out of the bloc without an agreement, is also likely to face criticism that involving the queen in the Brexit debate will spark a constitutional crisis. 

A No. 10 source said: “It’s time a new government and new PM set out a plan for the country after we leave the EU.”

This story has been updated with the queen’s approval for the suspension.

CONVERSATIONS