PM se­cures ap­proval from Queen to sus­pend Par­lia­ment in bold move to sweep aside MPs hell­bent on stop­ping Bri­tain from leav­ing the EU

Daily Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Sam Lis­ter Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

Com­mons shut­down shocks rebel al­liance Speaker con­demns ‘con­sti­tu­tional out­rage’

BORIS John­son took a bold gam­ble yes­ter­day with bomb­shell plans to sus­pend Par­lia- ment – a move viewed as a bid to kill off anti-Brexit plots.

The Prime Min­is­ter stunned MPs by an­nounc­ing he will close down the Com­mons for up to five weeks.

It means Re­main­ers will have po­ten­tially just three days to launch their plans to block a nodeal exit.

Mr John­son said he wanted the tem­po­rary shut­down – known as pro­ro­ga­tion – to al­low him to in­tro­duce “ex­cit­ing” plans to “take this coun­try for­ward”, in­clud­ing a crack­down on vi­o­lent crime, in­vest­ment in the NHS and education re­forms. But com­men­ta­tors said the move was pri­mar­ily de­signed to curb MPs at­tempt­ing to block Bri­tain’s de­par­ture from the EU on Oc­to­ber 31 if a new exit deal has not been struck.

Des­per­ate Re­main­ers last night tried to drag the Queen into a po­lit­i­cal row by de­mand­ing a

meet­ing with her to dis­cuss the move. Mr John­son said it was “com­pletely un­true” to sug­gest that Brexit was be­hind his de­ci­sion to sus­pend Par­lia­ment.

He said: “We need to get on with our do­mes­tic agenda and that’s why we’re an­nounc­ing a Queen’s Speech for Oc­to­ber 14.”

But the Prime Min­is­ter said pro­ro­ga­tion would al­low him to bring for­ward leg­is­la­tion for a new EU with­drawal agree­ment if a deal can be done with Brus­sels around the time of the Euro­pean Coun­cil sum­mit on Oc­to­ber 17.

“There will be am­ple time on both sides of that cru­cial Oc­to­ber 17 sum­mit, am­ple time in Par­lia­ment for MPs to de­bate the EU, to de­bate Brexit, and all the other is­sues,” he said. The Com­mons had been ex­pected to sit in the first two weeks of Septem­ber and then break for three weeks while the par­ties hold their au­tumn con­fer­ences.

Some MPs had been pre­par­ing to vote to stop the re­cess to al­low more time to con­sider Brexit, but Mr John­son’s move tor­pe­does their plan and, some be­lieve, dra­mat­i­cally in­creases the chances of a gen­eral elec­tion.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said the move made a Com­mons con­fi­dence mo­tion in the Government now “cer­tain”. Were it to lose, an elec­tion would be al­most in­evitable.

In a mes­sage to MPs, the Prime Min­is­ter said EU lead­ers were watch­ing their ac­tions and “it is only by show­ing unity and re­solve that we stand a chance of se­cur­ing a new deal that can be passed by Par­lia­ment”. MPs will head back on Oc­to­ber 14 for the Queen’s Speech set­ting out Mr John­son’s leg­isla­tive pro­gramme at the State Open­ing of Par­lia­ment.

Down­ing Street sources in­sisted MPs would still have plenty of time to dis­cuss Brexit.

The Queen ap­proved the or­der to pro­rogue Par­lia­ment af­ter meet­ing Leader of the House Ja­cob Rees-Mogg at Bal­moral yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

The sus­pen­sion will take place no ear­lier than Septem­ber 9 and no later than Septem­ber 12, and last un­til Oc­to­ber 14. Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn said he had “protested in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms on be­half of my party” in a let­ter to the monarch.

He called for a meet­ing with her along­side other op­po­si­tion mem­bers of the Privy Coun­cil.

The Labour leader said: “This is an out­rage and a threat to our democ­racy.”

Lib­eral Demo­crat leader Jo Swin­son said: “I’ve writ­ten to the Queen to ex­press my con­cern at Boris John­son’s anti-demo­cratic plan to shut down Par­lia­ment, and to re­quest an ur­gent meet­ing. This is a cru­cial time in our coun­try’s his­tory, and yet our Prime Min­is­ter is ar­ro­gantly at­tempt­ing to force through a no-deal Brexit against the demo­cratic will.

“He is out­ra­geously sti­fling the voices of both the peo­ple and their rep­re­sen­ta­tives.”

Speaker John Ber­cow, who was on hol­i­day, also ex­pressed anger. He called the move “a con­sti­tu­tional out­rage”.

But DUP leader Ar­lene Fos­ter said she had spo­ken di­rectly with Mr John­son about his plans and he was “well within his rights”.

She added: “All I know is the Prime Min­is­ter is en­ti­tled to go to Her Majesty the Queen and seek a new Queen’s Speech, par­tic­u­larly as a new leader and new Prime Min­is­ter he wants to set out his do­mes­tic agenda and I don’t think there’s any­thing un­usual about that.”

Con­ser­va­tive MP Damian Collins said: “De­spite all the shock in­dig­na­tion about Par­lia­ment be­ing pro­rogued there is noth­ing it can’t do next week or af­ter Oc­to­ber 14 that it could have done dur­ing the four weeks it won’t be sit­ting.

“One thing Brexit hasn’t lacked is time for open-ended Par­lia­men­tary de­bate.”

Mr Farage tweeted: “The Government’s an­nounce­ment today makes a con­fi­dence mo­tion now cer­tain, a gen­eral elec­tion more likely and is seen as a pos­i­tive move by Brex­i­teers.”

Mr John­son faces a fresh bat­tle with his own back­benchers when Par­lia­ment does sit in Oc­to­ber if he tries to push through a new ver­sion of the with­drawal agree­ment agreed by his pre­de­ces­sor Theresa May, even if the di­vi­sive Ir­ish bor­der back­stop has been re­moved. Mrs May’s ver­sion has al­ready been re­jected three times by Par­lia­ment.

Mark Fran­cois, one of the key fig­ures in the Euro­pean Re­search Group of Brex­i­teer To­ries, said he would not back a re­vived ver­sion and added that he sus­pected “nei­ther will many of my col­leagues.”

Speaker John Ber­cow called the sus­pen­sion ‘a con­sti­tu­tional out­rage’

Ja­cob Rees-Mogg af­ter Bal­moral meet­ing with the Queen yes­ter­day

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