UK Prime Minister Johnson suspends parliament for five weeks as Brexit deadline approaches

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Per request of United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Queen suspended parliament for five weeks yesterday. The move, called prorogation, came after a second motion for snap elections failed to pass. The United Kingdom is in the process of leaving the European Union which has been termed Brexit for "British exit".

Johnson (r) discusses Brexit with Emmanuel Macron of France in August (Image: UK Prime Minister)

Monday's bid for October elections failed to get the two-thirds majority required. According to the BBC, it is commonplace for new governments — Johnson became prime minister in July — to suspend parliament, but apparently using it as a tool in his Brexit strategy has been controversial. Parliament is to remain out-of-session through October 14; the Brexit deadline is October 31.

The United Kingdom voted on June 23, 2016, to leave the European Union in the Brexit referendum. The original deadline to leave was extended previously to its current date, but it is Johnson's stated intent for the UK to leave with or without a trade deal with the EU and not seek any further extensions.

"[W]e must get Brexit done, because the UK must come out [...] by October 31st, or else I fear that permanent damage will be done in the UK to trust our democratic system", Johnson said in a video statement released in conjunction with a visit to Ireland with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

During these five weeks of prorogation, parliament cannot pass legislation, as no votes, debates or Prime Minister's Questions can take place. Members of the House of Commons protested by shouting "shame on you!" and holding signs which read "silenced" during Monday's final session.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said his Labour Party "[are] eager for an election — but as keen as we are, we are not prepared to risk inflicting the disaster of no deal on our communities, our jobs, our services, or indeed our rights".

Johnson asked Queen Elizabeth II for this prorogation in August. Johnson became leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister after Theresa May stepped down on July 24 after she was unable to negotiate a Brexit deal.