‘Outrage’ as Boris Johnson shuts down parliament in Brexit battle
Labour MPs condemn prorogation move as 'anti-democratic'
28 August, 2019 — By Richard Osley
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
BORIS Johnson faced mounting accusations of blasting a hole in the nation’s democratic processes today (Wednesday) with a move to shut down parliament for five weeks. Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said there would be “outrage” at the tactics the Prime Minister had chosen to adopt, after he asked for permission from the Queen for prorogue parliament – a request she granted.
While Mr Johnson said he wanted the time to “bring forward an ambitious new legislative programme for MPs’ approval”, it is widely accepted that the suspension would make it significantly harder for the House of Commons to pass legislation that would foil a “no-deal” Brexit.
Former Conservative chancellor Phillip Hammond is among the critics, labelling it as “profoundly undemocratic”.
Mr Johnson maintains that the UK will leave Europe on Halloween and his request follows cross-party talks on the opposition benches over how to prevent a no-deal crash-out earlier in the week. Sir Keir Starmer, the Holborn and St Pancras MP serving as Labour’s Brexit spokesman, said this week that the party’s position on Europe was clear, telling Radio 4’s Today programme: “Jeremy Corbyn has very clearly said any outcome now must be subject to a referendum, and we would campaign for Remain.”
Both Ms Siddiq and Mr Starmer represent Camden constituencies which voted heavily to remain in the European Union at the 2016 referendum.
“Boris Johnson is seeking to shut down parliament – his behaviour is nothing less than a democractic outrage,” said Ms Siddiq. “The people of Camden did not vote for an unelected prime minister, who cannot command a majority, to bypass our democractic system in order to deliver a no-deal Brexit that nobody voted for.”
She added: “From Jeremy Corbyn to Phillip Hammond, the Prime Minister’s actions have sparked outrage. I am determined to resist this anti-democratic behaviour every step of the way. We need a second referendum or a general election, and we need it now.”
Under Mr Johnson’s timetable, MPs would return to the Commons for a Queen’s Speech on October 14 – just over a fortnight before the Prime Minister’s “do or die” deadline for leaving Europe.
Belsize councillor Luisa Porritt, a new Liberal Democrat MEP, said the shutdown was an “act of cowardice by a Prime Minister on the back foot”.
She added: “It was very encouraging that MPs came together for cross-party talks on how to block no deal. This work will continue to make sure Boris Johnson is not able to force through a reckless Brexit which will inflict serious damage on our country.”
Councillor Oliver Cooper, the leader of the Tories in Camden, said: “Parliament hasn’t been suspended. It’s the end of a legislative session and a new Queen’s Speech, which allows the government to bring forward new legislation as there is in most years. “While the end of the session reduced the time parliament sat in 2016 and 2017 by five days, it’s been reduced by just three days this time. Labour MPs were only last month criticising the government for not holding another Queen’s Speech, so it’s gross hypocrisy to criticise the government doing just that now.”
He added: “I think MPs should have voted for the withdrawal agreement to avoid no deal – which, of course, Tulip didn’t do.”