We all saw this coming. Faced with the possibility of opposition to his Brexit plans, Boris Johnson seems keen to close Parliament until it is all over.
There’s already a court challenge to any such plan, and Commons Speaker John Bercow has said he will “fight with every breath in [his] body” to prevent any “attempt to circumvent, to bypass or – God forbid – to close down Parliament”.
And this should focus minds in the Liberal Democrat Party too. Leader Jo Swinson has been dragging her heels over a plan by Jeremy Corbyn for a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mr Johnson’s government, early in September.
This would be followed by a bid to form a short-term government with just two goals: prevent a ‘no deal’ Brexit and call a general election.
Ms Swinson has said Mr Corbyn is unfit to be prime minister under any circumstances (although many believe she is simply unwilling to support a general election in which she and other members of her party may lose their Parliamentary seats).
But if BoJob is taking this route, then it seems the only options available to her will be supporting Mr Corbyn’s confidence vote or supporting ‘no deal’ Brexit, and the latter choice will infuriate voters who supported the Lib Dems as the so-called “Party of Remain”.
Parliament will re-convene on September 4, meaning this matter will come to a head quickly.
Boris Johnson has asked the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, whether parliament can be shut down for five weeks from 9 September in what appears to be a concerted plan to stop MPs forcing a further extension to Brexit, according to leaked government correspondence.
An email from senior government advisers to an adviser in No 10 – written within the last 10 days and seen by the Observer – makes clear that the prime minister has recently requested guidance on the legality of such a move, known as prorogation. The initial legal guidance given in the email is that shutting parliament may well be possible, unless action being taken in the courts to block such a move by anti-Brexit campaigners succeeds in the meantime.
On Saturday Labour and pro-Remain Tory MPs reacted furiously, saying that the closure of parliament, as a method for stopping MPs preventing a potentially disastrous no-deal Brexit, would be an affront to democracy and deeply irresponsible, particularly given the government’s own acceptance of the economic turmoil no-deal could cause.
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