Queen Elizabeth agrees to suspend UK Parliament ahead of Brexit deadline

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Yesterday, the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II announced she will comply with the request of Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament for parts of September and October. Critics from across Britain's political spectrum have claimed this is a move by Johnson to foil opposition to his plans for a no-deal Brexit by October 31.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament this fall.
Image: Gov.UK.

Per the request, Parliament would meet briefly in early September and then not reconvene until October 14, two weeks before the current Brexit deadline. According to Johnson, this break will allow him to develop plans for his administration, which he is to present on October 14, the same day the Queen is scheduled to give a speech.

According to Johnson's critics, this is a ploy to achieve a no-deal Brexit, meaning the UK would cease to be part of the European Union (EU) without any specific arrangements made about trade, tariffs, the European Court of Justice, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, trademarks, and other matters. Currently, the British parliament has a majority against a no-deal Brexit.

"We're not going to wait until Oct. 31 before getting on with our plans to take this country forward", Johnson said in an interview. "This is a new government with a very exciting agenda".

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called the move a "smash and grab on our democracy".

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow commented on the matter — which the BBC noted as an unusual move by a Speaker — "However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of [suspending Parliament] now would be to stop [Parliament] debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country."

Prime Minister Johnson told the public via Twitter, "Jeremy Corbyn wants to cancel the referendum and argue about Brexit for years [...] I am committed to leading our country forward and getting Britain out of the EU by October 31st."

Member of Parliament (MP) Yvette Cooper of the Labour Party added, "Boris Johnson is trying to use the Queen to concentrate power in his own hands — this is a deeply dangerous and irresponsible way to govern."

Conservative MP Philip Hammond commented, "It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis."

In the government of the United Kingdom, the monarch is the head of state but not the head of government. Officially, the monarch is allowed to prorogue a session of Parliament, in which it is suspended but not officially dissolved. During prorogation, the members of parliament may not officially debate or work on laws or policies. According to the House of Commons Library, in the past few decades most prorogations have been for at most two weeks.