BORIS TAKES THE GLOVES OFF
In historic move, he suspends Parliament to thwart anti-Brexit MPs ++ Speaker brands it an ‘outrage’ ++ Corbyn sparks fury by demanding meeting with Queen ++ Scots Tory leader set to quit today
BORIS Johnson went to war with MPs last night by suspending Parliament for nearly five weeks.
The Commons will now not sit from early September to October 14 – slashing the time available to block a No Deal Brexit.
The Prime Minister said the high-risk move was to allow him to present his domestic agenda in a Queen’s Speech. But Commons Speaker John Bercow warned of a ‘constitutional outrage’ while Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn asked the monarch to intervene. And Ruth Davidson, a Remainer who leads the Scottish Tories, is expected to deliver a major blow to the Prime Minister today by quitting.
The scene is set for a momentous clash when MPs return to Westminster next week after their long summer break. The odds of a snap election and No Deal have both shortened.
Senior Government sources insisted Mr Johnson would honour his ‘do or die’ pledge to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 even if MPs passed a law ordering him to avoid No Deal.
An ally said he would also refuse any request to delay Brexit again, adding: ‘We could get into some
pretty deep waters, but we are ready for that. If MPs pass a no-confidence vote next week he won’t resign.
‘We won’t recommend another government, we’ll dissolve Parliament, call an election in November.
‘He will not seek an extension to Brexit – we are leaving.’ The dramatic gambit came as:
Details emerged of a plan by Remainer MPs and Mr Bercow to take control of the Commons agenda as soon as Parliament returns next Tuesday to try to block No Deal;
Sir John Major accused Mr Johnson of trying to ‘bypass a sovereign Parliament that opposes his policy on Brexit’ and said he was considering legal action to prevent it;
The Lawyer magazine reported that Mishcon de Reya has lodged an immediate legal injunction on behalf of Gina Miller to prevent the Government suspending Parliament. She said Mr Johnson was hijacking the Queen’s prerogative power;
A leaked document revealed Mr Johnson’s Brexit adviser David Frost has told Brussels the PM wanted a deal but was ‘not frightened of No Deal’;
Commons Leader Jacob
‘Right to call their bluff’
Rees-Mogg insisted Parliament must act on the ‘will of the people’;
Donald Trump backed the PM’s move, saying Mr Johnson was ‘exactly what the UK has been looking for’;
The pound slumped by 1 per cent on the basis No Deal was more likely;
Talk of an early election reached fever pitch as the Treasury confirmed Chancellor Sajid Javid would allocate billions of pounds to schools, hospitals and police;
Senior Labour MPs called for guerrilla tactics to combat Mr Johnson’s ploy, including barricading themselves in Parliament and a general strike;
Brexit hardliner Mark Francois warned that removing the Irish backstop would not be enough to persuade Tory Eurosceptics to back a withdrawal agreement.
Mr Johnson’s decision to stage a Queen’s Speech on October 14 was kept secret from all but a handful of Cabinet ministers. In a letter to MPs yesterday morning, he pointed out that the current session of Parliament is the longest in almost 400 years and ‘needs to be brought to a close’ to allow the Government to set out its domestic agenda.
He said MPs would have an opportunity to vote on his proposals and any last-minute Brexit agreement on October 21 and 22, just over a week before the UK is due to leave.
Parliament had been due to rise for a three-week recess from mid-September for party conference season and Tory sources said Mr Johnson’s decision means MPs would lose only four sitting days at the start of October, and potentially another two or three days next month.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith backed the move, saying it was time for rebel MPs to ‘put up or shut up’. He added: ‘They have had plenty of time. The PM is quite right to call their bluff.’
Opposition leaders, including Mr Corbyn and the Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, wrote to the Queen demanding an urgent meeting. But Buckingham Palace later announced the suspension had been agreed after Mr Rees-Mogg took a delegation of ministers to Balmoral.
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell accused Mr Johnson of staging a coup.
And Mr Bercow said: ‘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.’
Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, said Whitehall mandarins would have to consider ignoring ministers’ instructions during prorogation.
He told The Guardian: ‘ We are reaching the point where the civil service must consider putting its stewardship of the country ahead of service to the government of the day.’
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Government was turning into a dictatorship, adding: ‘ Today will go down as the day democracy died.’
Former chancellor Philip Hammond described the move as ‘profoundly undemocratic’ and said it would force rebels to act next week.
Members of the so- called Remain Alliance were tightlipped about their strategy last night. But one source said MPs were working with Mr Bercow to stage an emergency debate on Tuesday.
The Speaker is expected to allow MPs the chance to try to pass a new law requiring Mr Johnson to seek a further Brexit delay.
Tory ex- attorney general Dominic Grieve yesterday said he was willing to join Labour in voting down the Government.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said a confidence motion was now certain and a general election more likely.