High profile Conservative MPs, including several ex-ministers, have blasted Boris Johnson’s ‘outrageous’ move to blindside Remainers over the timetable leading up to Brexit.
This morning the Prime Minister revealed that he had asked the Queen to suspend parliament for nearly five weeks from the middle of September, ahead of a Queen’s Speech on 14 October. MPs are due to return to work next week after summer recess, giving just a week of sitting time.
In a letter to MPs, Johnson insisted the move was simply to enable him to “bring forward a new bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit”.
But former ministers including Philip Hammond and David Gauke, ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve, Speaker John Bercow, and numerous opposition MPs have united in attacking the move.
The former chancellor tweeted: “It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis. Profoundly undemocratic.”
The former justice secretary added: “Put to one side your views of a no deal Brexit. Imagine that Jeremy Corbyn is PM, pursuing a policy that is unpopular in Parliament & in the country. At a crucial moment he finds a way to evade Parliamentary scrutiny for several weeks. This is a dangerous precedent.”
Bercow blasted the move as “a constitutional outrage”.
He added: “However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country… Shutting down Parliament would be an offence against the democratic process and the rights of Parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives.
“Surely at this early stage in his premiership, the Prime Minister should be seeking to establish rather than undermine his democratic credentials and indeed his commitment to Parliamentary democracy.”
Ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve told Sky News the timing and length of the prorogation of Parliament is “completely unprecedented” and showed “amazing contempt for parliament on the part of the Prime Minister”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added: “I am appalled at the recklessness of Johnson’s government, which talks about sovereignty and yet is seeking to suspend parliament to avoid scrutiny of its plans for a reckless No Deal Brexit. This is an outrage and a threat to our democracy… If Johnson has confidence in his plans he should put them to the people in a general election or public vote.”
John McDonnell, shadow chancellor, 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.”
Fellow Labour MP and chair of the Health Select Committee Yvette Cooper branded it “deeply dangerous and irresponsible”.
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