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 European Union exit day on Oct. 31, infuriating opponents who urged Queen Elizabeth to intervene.
Johnson set Oct. 14 for the Queen’s Speech – the formal state opening of a new session of parliament that is preceded 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 (Members of Parliament) to debate the EU, to debate Brexit and all the other issues, ample time,’’ Johnson told reporters.
Asked if he was trying to block MPs from delaying Britain’s EU departure, he replied: “That is completely untrue’’.
While suspending parliament ahead of a Queen’s Speech is the historical norm in Britain, the decision to limit parliamentary scrutiny, weeks before the country’s most contentious policy decision in decades, prompted an immediate outcry.
It also 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 lawmakers sought a legal injunction.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: “Would be very hard for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, to seek a no-confidence vote against New Prime Minister’’.
Trump added that especially in light of the fact that Johnson is exactly what the U.K. has been looking for, & will prove to be “a great one!” Love U.K.
More than three years after the UK voted 52 per cent to 48 per cent to quit the EU, it is still unclear on what terms – or indeed whether – the bloc’s second largest economy will leave the club it joined in 1973.
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.
Parliament’s speaker, John Bercow, a powerful figure, who has shown a willingness to break procedural precedents in order to ensure lawmakers 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.
Sterling fell sharply, losing around a cent against the U.S. dollar and the euro, as investors took the news as a sign that a no-deal Brexit, and the prospect of a hit to Britain’s economy, was more likely.
Johnson argued, however, that the move was designed to allow his government to press on with its domestic agenda.
The Queen’s Speech is the formal state opening of a new session of parliament at which Queen Elizabeth reads a speech prepared by the government. (Reuters/NAN)