House of Commons speaker John Bercow has called Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend parliament a “constitutional outrage.”
Calling it “blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation [suspension] now would be to stop parliament debating Brexit,” Bercow said it is “vital that our elected parliament has its say.”
Amid growing fear the UK could crash out of the EU without a deal on Oct. 31, Bercow’s words will fuel speculation he could push Johnson to recall parliament, bringing MPs back to work early.
The prime minister has insisted it is “completely untrue” his bid to suspend parliament is a veiled attempt to evade MPs scrutinizing his Brexit plans.
He is likely to come under increasing pressure from Tory MPs to recall parliament — though he is likely to resist.
MPs who have formed a Remain alliance to try to block a no-deal Brexit now face a race against time, however, as the move will shave around four days of Commons time from the parliamentary agenda.
Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum reacted with fury today and Bercow backed them in a statement.
He said: “I have had no contact from the government, but if the reports that it is seeking to prorogue parliament are confirmed, this move represents a constitutional outrage.
“However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country. At this time, one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, it is vital that our elected parliament has its say. After all, we live in a parliamentary democracy.
“Shutting down parliament would be an offense against the democratic process and the rights of parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives.
“Surely at this early stage in his premiership, the prime minister should be seeking to establish rather than undermine his democratic credentials and indeed his commitment to parliamentary democracy.
“My family and I are away on holiday and I will make no further comment at this stage.”
It comes as a cross-party group of more than 70 MPs and peers are considering seeking an interim interdict in the Court of Session to block prorogation of parliament. Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray said that Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend parliament is “an assault on our democracy”.
“This is the people’s parliament and the people deserve to have their representatives in parliament during this vital period,” said Murray.“This is the opposite of taking back control. Legal action to prevent the prime minister suspending parliament has already been fast-tracked through the courts and the legal team will now consider the appropriate next steps, including seeking interim orders.”
The Speaker can recall parliament in a time of emergency but would usually only do so at the request of the government.
Parliament is not due to begin sitting again until Tuesday, Sept. 3.