Queen Approves Suspension Of U.K. Parliament Ahead Of Brexit
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will limit parliament's ability to derail his Brexit plan by cutting the amount of time it will sit between now and EU exit day on October 31.
In his boldest move yet to take the country out of the European Union with or without a divorce deal, Johnson set October 14 for the Queen's Speech, the formal state opening of a new session of parliament that is proceeded by a suspension of the House of Commons.
The Queen agreed to the date, effectively shutting parliament from mid-September for around a month.
Incensed, opposition leaders wrote to the Queen to express their concern and asked for a meeting, threatening to drag the 93-year-old monarch into the constitutional crisis.
"There will be ample time in parliament for MPs to debate the EU, to debate Brexit and all the other issues, ample time," Johnson told reporters on Wednesday.
Asked if he was trying to block MPs from delaying Britain's EU departure, he replied: "That is completely untrue."
The decision to limit parliamentary scrutiny has increased the chances Johnson could face a vote of no-confidence in parliament, potentially leading to an election.
"Make no mistake, this is a very British coup," John McDonnell, the second most powerful man in the opposition Labour Party, said. "Whatever one's views on Brexit, once you allow a prime minister to prevent the full and free operation of our democratic institutions you are on a very precarious path."
The Church of England said a chaotic EU exit would hurt the poor, the Speaker of parliament said politicians must be heard and a group of cross-party MPs sought a legal injunction.
With just 65 days until exit day, parliamentarians are battling to prevent the prime minister from steering the country out of the EU without a transition deal, pitching one of Europe's most stable countries into uncharted territory.
On Tuesday, the leaders of Britain's opposition parties had agreed to seek to use parliamentary procedure to force Johnson to ask Brussels for a delay to Brexit beyond October 31. But with the prime minister finally showing his hand, they may try to bring him down instead.
Corbyn said he would seek to use parliamentary mechanisms and then call a no-confidence vote when the time was right.
With Johnson holding a working majority of just one seat in the 650-seat parliament, members of his party who oppose a no-deal Brexit will have to decide where their loyalties lie.
"I think (a no-confidence vote) is more likely, because if it is impossible to prevent prorogation, then I think it's going to be very difficult for people like myself to keep confidence in the government," Conservative Party MP Dominic Grieve said.
Fellow Conservatives such as Philip Hammond, a former finance minister, described it as profoundly undemocratic.
Parliament's Speaker John Bercow, a powerful figure who has shown a willingness to break procedural precedents in order to ensure MPs can debate Brexit fully, said it was "blindingly obvious" the move was designed to restrict debate.
"Shutting down parliament would be an offence against the democratic process and the rights of parliamentarians as the people's elected representatives," Bercow, who voted to remain in the EU in 2016, said in a statement.
Johnson argued, however, that the move was designed to allow his government to press on with its domestic agenda.
He says he wants to agree a divorce deal with Brussels but needs the bloc to change its stance on a key sticking point around neighbour Ireland first.
A leading campaigner in the 2016 Brexit referendum, he has also said Britain must leave the EU to maintain faith in politics.