British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to ask the Queen to suspend the UK Parliament from mid-September, a move that would shorten the time available to lawmakers to block a no-deal Brexit. Parliament would be “prorogued” until October 14, Johnson said in a statement. Brexit is due to happen on October 31, and Johnson has promised the UK will leave the European Union on that date with or without a deal.
Members of Parliament (MPs) are due to return from a summer break on September 3, and the government’s move means they will effectively have around a week to pass any legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
Johnson’s plan will be considered at a meeting of the Privy Council at the Queen’s Balmoral estate, according to reports. The Queen would have to formally approve the request.
British governments usually arrange for a new parliamentary session to begin every year. New sessions start with a Queen’s Speech, which outlines the government’s legislative priorities for the session. But former Prime Minister Theresa May allowed the previous session to drag on, as she repeatedly attempted to persuade lawmakers pass her Brexit deal.
Johnson’s “do or die”‘ position led to a number of UK opposition party leaders to agree on a strategy to avert a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday.
Options include “the possibility of passing legislation and a vote of no confidence,” according to a joint statement from the UK’s Labour Party, SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the Independent Group for Change.
Opposition politicians were furious about the move on Wednesday. “Unless MPs come together to stop him next week, today will go down in history as a dark one indeed for UK democracy,” Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter.
“We do not have a ‘new government’. This action is an utterly scandalous affront to our democracy. We cannot let this happen,” Deputy Labour leader Tom Watsonwrote on Twitter.
Green MP Caroline Lucas called Johnson “cowardly” on Twitter, adding that the Prime Minister “knows his reckless No Deal Brexit will never gain the support of MPs. A constitutional outrage which Parliament and the people will oppose.”
Currently, Johnson has a parliamentary majority of one. This makes him vulnerable to losing a vote of no-confidence. While bringing down his government wouldn’t automatically stop a no-deal Brexit, it could trigger a series of events that leads to him requesting a Brexit extension.