UK’s Boris Johnson moves to suspend parliament

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 24: New Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to media outside Number 10, Downing Street on July 24, 2019 in London, England. Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, was elected leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party yesterday receiving 66 percent of the votes cast by the Party members. He takes the office of Prime Minister this afternoon after outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May took questions in the House of Commons for the last time. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

According to a government source, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to set an October 14 date for the Queen’s Speech – the formal state opening of a new session of parliament.

The move is viewed by some as an attempt by Johnson to push through a no-deal Brexit.

During the speech, Queen Elizabeth reads a speech prepared by the government, setting out a legislative agenda for the coming year.

A Queen’s Speech on Oct. 14 would effectively shut down parliament from mid-September for around a month and reduces the time in which lawmakers could try to block a no-deal Brexit.

Johnson has vowed to take the UK out of the European Union with or without a deal by October 31.

While suspending parliament ahead of a Queen’s Speech is the historical norm in Britain, the decision to limit parliamentary scrutiny weeks before the country’s most contentious policy decision in decades prompted an immediate outcry.

“This action is an utterly scandalous affront to our democracy,” Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, said on Twitter. “We cannot let this happen.”

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, said Wednesday would go down as a “dark one indeed for UK democracy” unless politicians join forces next week to stop the prime minister.

On Tuesday, lawmakers opposed to a no-deal Brexit met to discuss ways they could use parliamentary procedure to force Johnson to seek a delay to Brexit.

Parliament returns from its summer break on Sept. 3 and had been expected to sit for two weeks before breaking up again to allow political parties to hold their annual conferences. Typically it begins sitting again in early October.

 

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