British PM Suspends Parliament Until Oct. 14
By Ken Bredemeier August 28, 2019
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that parliament would be suspended until mid-October, a move that angered lawmakers opposed to his planned withdrawal from the European Union on October 31 without a deal and cuts the time they will have to try to block him.
The new British leader's unexpected announcement threw the debate over Brexit into a new uproar three years after voters narrowly decided to leave the EU 46 years after it joined the 28-nation bloc.
Queen Elizabeth, as the head of state, approved Johnson's plan to suspend parliament. She will reopen parliament October 14 with an address outlining the government's legislative priorities.
Johnson said that would give parliamentarians favoring and opposing Brexit "ample time" for debate ahead of an October 17-18 summit of EU leaders, which could reach an ultimate decision on whether Britain leaves the EU with or without a divorce deal spelling out the terms of its departure.
Johnson said it was "completely untrue" that the suspension of parliament was designed to block lawmakers from thwarting his Brexit plans. Rather, he said, it was to "bring forward a new bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit."
But lawmakers opposed to Johnson's action expressed their anger, a day after six opposition parties pledged to try to reach an agreement on how they would block a no-deal Brexit rather than attempt to bring down the government, with Johnson holding only a single-seat majority.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow called Johnson's suspension of parliament a "constitutional outrage." He said Johnson's intention is "to stop parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country."
Bercow said, "Shutting down parliament would be an offense against the democratic process."
John McDonnell, the second most powerful lawmaker in the opposition Labour Party, said, "Make no mistake, this is a very British coup. 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."
Sarah Wollaston, a former Conservative lawmaker who now sits with the Liberal Democrats, said Johnson was "behaving like a tin pot dictator."
A group of Church of England bishops attacked plans for a no-deal Brexit, saying the economic upheaval that might occur would particularly hurt the poor and other vulnerable people.
The 25 bishops said they had "particular concerns about the potential cost of a No Deal Brexit to those least resilient to economic shocks."
The British pound slumped more than 1% against the dollar and euro on the uncertainty created by Johnson's announcement.
U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter, showing continued support for Johnson.
"Would be very hard for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's Labour Party, to seek a no-confidence vote against New Prime Minister Boris Johnson, especially in light of the fact that Boris is exactly what the U.K. has been looking for, & will prove to be 'a great one!' Love U.K.," Trump said.
Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, failed three times to get parliament to agree to a Brexit deal her negotiators reached with the EU, leading directly to Johnson's election as head of the Conservatives and becoming prime minister.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|