Reaction has been swift and fierce to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament. Leading MPs have called it a “constitutional outrage.” Members of Johnson’s party have resigned. And the media are calling it “an affront to democracy.”
CGTN’s Gerald Tan takes a look now at what the suspension means to the Brexit process.
The British House of Commons is currently on summer recess. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament during a crucial period before Brexit has shocked the nation.
A big showdown is expected when MPs return to Westminster on Tuesday, September 3rd. Suspending Parliament, or what’s formally known as proroguing Parliament, leaves MPs little time to debate a so-called “hard Brexit” — crashing out the EU without a deal.
The Queen has approved the suspension to start between September 9th and 12th. It should be pointed out prorogation is a normal procedure to formally end a session of parliament. What’s irregular is the length of time, in this case, five weeks.
A Queen’s Speech is planned for October 14th when Parliament reconvenes. Boris Johnson says it will outline his “very exciting agenda.” And that’s why his opponents are concerned.
With Brexit Day just two weeks after that, they’ll have only a small window to pass any laws to halt a no-deal Brexit.
Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn says, “What the Prime Minister is doing is a sort of smash and grab on our democracy in order to force through no deal exit from the European Union.”
While Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland adds, “Shutting down Parliament in order to force through a no deal Brexit which will do untold and lasting damage to the country against the wishes of MPs is not democracy, it’s dictatorship.”
So what are their options? One route is legal action. Some parliamentarians have applied for a judicial review in the Scottish courts to stop prorogation itself.
The MPs could also try passing legislation to delay Brexit or stop it from happening without a deal; but all previous attempts to do so have failed, and the opposition remains fractured.
Separately, there’s talk of putting forth a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s government. If he loses, opposition leaders could either cobble together a majority or trigger a general election.
Boris Johnson took the premiership, promising he would take Britain out of the EU no matter what come October 31st. His latest move is yet proof that he means business.