The U.K. government is set to ask the Queen to suspend Parliament, which will, in effect, stop opposition lawmakers from blocking Brexit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly dodged questions as to whether or not he will ask the Queen to suspend Parliament in recent weeks. Now he has formally asked the Queen to suspend Parliament in the middle of September. It will remain suspended until Parliament re-opens on October 14.
By suspending Parliament, opposition lawmakers will have less time to come up with a plan to thwart a no-deal Brexit on the scheduled October 31 deadline for the U.K. to leave the EU.
The suspending of Parliament is known as “proroguing” Parliament. When Parliament is prorogued, any motions or questions lawmakers have put forward then lapse until Parliament formally opens again.
“The Prime Minister has briefed Cabinet colleagues that the government will bring forward an ambitious new legislative programme for MPs’ approval, and that the current parliamentary session will be brought to an end,” Downing Street said in a statement. “The Prime Minister has spoken to Her Majesty The Queen to request an end to the current parliamentary session in the second sitting week in September.
Following the conclusion of the traditional party conference season, the second session of this Parliament will commence with a Queen’s Speech on Monday 14 October.”
Prime Minister Johnson said the suspension of Parliament had nothing to do with blocking scrutiny of his Brexit plans, and was about delivering on his domestic policy agenda.
“To deliver on the public’s priorities we require a new session and a Queen’s Speech. “I hope, a deal with the EU is forthcoming, Parliament will then have the opportunity to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill required for ratification ahead of 31 October.”
In a letter circulated to all Members of Parliament, Johnson said that “the Government will take the responsible approach of continuing its preparations for leaving the EU, with or without a deal.”
However, the highly controversial move has dragged the monarch into the Brexit debate for the first time. The last time a British government asked the monarch to suspend Parliament in order to avoid opposition to government policy was 1948, five years before Queen Elizabeth II assumed the throne, according to the Institute for Government.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, whose role is to preside over Parliamentary debates, described the move as a “constitutional outrage.”
It is likely that the Queen, whose powers are almost entirely symbolic, will accept the government’s request. This would give opposition lawmakers under three weeks to scrutinize the government’s Brexit plan.
Prime Minister Johnson has said that the UK will leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal, despite critics of a no-deal Brexit warning that it would have a disastrous economic impact on the British economy.
The immediate reaction to the news has been one of shock from the majority of lawmakers opposed to the Johnson government.
The leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, tweeted that “today will go down in history as a dark one indeed for UK democracy.”