Boris Johnson Expected to Suspend Parliament Over Brexit Vote

August 28, 2019, 9:15 AM UTC

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is preparing to ask Queen Elizabeth II to prorogue or suspend the U.K. Parliament from mid-September to mid-October, the BBC reported, a move that could hamper lawmakers’ efforts to block a no-deal Brexit and even trigger a constitutional crisis.

The pound fell as much as 1.1% to $1.2157.

Under the plan, all legislative business would be suspended from about Sept. 11 until a Queen’s Speech on Oct. 14 kicks off a new session of Parliament, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said on Twitter. Johnson’s team said it would be business as usual for a new government, she said, with the “useful political side effect” of denying time to MPs trying to stop Britain leaving the European Union without an agreement on Oct. 31. 

Johnson’s office had no immediate comment.

Parliament is due to return on Sept. 3, and was only going to sit for two weeks before taking a three-week recess to allow MPs to go to their annual party conferences. That would have seen it returning on Oct. 7. But Johnson’s delay would buy him more than a week. A Queen’s Speech is usually followed by four or five days of debate.

MPs who oppose a no-deal Brexit have feared Johnson would attempt to stop them meeting, and won’t take it lying down. Some have talked of simply continuing to meet in another building, and defying the government. Parliament has also passed measures aimed at forcing the government to let it meet.

They could still move against Johnson next week, possibly with a vote of no confidence. But even that could be difficult, according to Martyn Atkins, a parliamentary clerk. If the Queen has already agreed to suspend parliament, he said on Twitter, that would still apply, meaning rebels would have until the suspension date to form a new government.

The decision to suspend Parliament will be confirmed by the privy council—a group of senior politicians who advise the monarch—at the Queen’s Balmoral residence in Scotland on Wednesday, the BBC reported. The BBC also said the Cabinet would hold a conference call on Wednesday morning.

“Boris Johnson is trying to use the Queen to concentrate power in his own hands—this is a deeply dangerous and irresponsible way to govern,” Yvette Cooper, a Labour MP who also chairs Parliament’s home affairs committee, said on Twitter.

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