COVID-19 Special Coverage
British PM suspends Parliament
British PM suspends Parliament

On Wednesday British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspended Parliament with permission from Queen Elizabeth II, putting the body into recess until less than three weeks before the October 31 Brexit deadline.

Johnson suspended parliament in a process called prorogation wherein the prime minister may request that the current monarch suspend Parliament without dissolving it. A prorogation request has not been refused during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, but her permission is still required for this kind of suspension. In a press release announcing the move, Johnson described the current Parliament as “one of the least active” in history, spurring his decision to suspend the legislative body until the middle of October. Johnson stated that suspending Parliament gives his cabinet time to develop a new policy slate for when the body reconvenes, including “helping the NHS [National Health System], fighting violent crime, investing in infrastructure and science and cutting the cost of living.” However, with the extended recess Parliament will only be in session for two-and-a-half weeks prior to the October 31 Brexit negotiation deadline, leaving the British legislature scant time to approve or disapprove of any deal negotiated by Johnson. Johnson campaigned on a policy of strictly abiding by the October 31 exit date, even if it results in a “no-deal” Brexit without a negotiated withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.

Opposition groups were quick to decry the move. Many saw the move as motivated by Johnson attempting to avoid being forced to extend the Brexit deadline by Parliament. Earlier this week opposition leaders announced that they intended to introduce a law early next week preventing Johnson from imposing a “no-deal” Brexit, similar to the law they used to force previous Prime Minister Theresa May to seek an extension in April. In response to his decision to suspend Parliament, senior Conservative MP George Young resigned, stating that Johnson’s decision “risks undermining the fundamental role of Parliament at a critical time in our history” in a resignation letter obtained by CNN. Scottish Conservative party leader and vocal critic of Borris Johnson’s government Ruth Davidson also announced that she was stepping down in the wake of the suspension.

According to BBC, Parliament will convene for a final session on Tuesday, September 3, before going into recess. During the final session, Parliament could call for a vote of no-confidence in Johnson’s government, which, if successful, would result in a new general election in October. This prorogation will be the longest in recent memory and will resume with a Queen’s Speech after Parliament returns from its recess.