Commons speaker John Bercow leads outrage over Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament branding it a ‘constitutional outrage’
A furious John Bercow today led a chorus of outrage over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to extend the suspension of Parliament.
The Commons Speaker said he was on holiday with his family and had not been consulted about the move, which he labelled a ‘constitutional outrage’.
Mr Bercow said the plan to shut down Parliament from around September 11 until the state opening on October 14 was an ‘offence against the democratic process’.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks to Commons Speaker John Bercow in Parliament last month
Mr Johnson has rejected claims his decision to hold a Queen’s Speech on October 14 is designed to block MPs from considering ways to thwart his Brexit plans.
But he was accused of mounting a ‘coup’ against Parliament amid accusations he is acting like a ‘tin pot dictator’ and dragging the monarch into a constitutional row.
Mr Bercow said: ‘However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.’
The Speaker added that ‘at this early stage in his premiership, the Prime Minister should be seeking to establish rather than undermine his democratic credentials and indeed his commitment to Parliamentary democracy’.
Mr Bercow (pictured on March 27) said he had not been consulted about the move
But Downing Street sources insisted only around four Commons sitting days would be lost due to the suspension of Parliament before the speech, a move known as prorogation.
Full statement from Speaker John Bercow
‘I have had no contact from the Government, but if the reports that it is seeking to prorogue Parliament are confirmed, this move represents a constitutional outrage.
‘However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country. At this time, one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, it is vital that our elected Parliament has its say. After all, we live in a parliamentary democracy.
‘Shutting down Parliament would be an offence against the democratic process and the rights of Parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives.
‘Surely at this early stage in his premiership, the Prime Minister should be seeking to establish rather than undermine his democratic credentials and indeed his commitment to Parliamentary democracy.
‘My family and I are away on holiday and I will make no further comment at this stage.’
The Prime Minister said there would be ‘ample time’ for MPs to debate Brexit either side of a crunch EU summit on October 17.
Asked whether the move was because he was planning an early general election before the end of the year, Mr Johnson said: ‘No, what you should take from this is we are doing exactly what I said on the steps of Downing Street which is that we must get on now with our legislative domestic agenda.’
But shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: ‘Make no mistake, this is a very British coup.
‘Whatever one’s views on Brexit, once you allow a Prime Minister to prevent the full and free operation of our democratic institutions you are on a very precarious path.’
Former chancellor Philip Hammond, who is opposed to a no-deal Brexit, said: ‘It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis.’
Mr Johnson said it was ‘completely untrue’ that Brexit was the motivation for the move, insisting it was time for a new session of Parliament to set out his ‘exciting agenda’.
A cross-party group of more than 70 MPs and peers are considering seeking an interim interdict in the Court of Session to block prorogation of Parliament.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during the G7 summit at Biarritz in France on Monday
Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray said that Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament is ‘an assault on our democracy’.
‘This is the people’s parliament and the people deserve to have their representatives in Parliament during this vital period,’ said Mr Murray. ‘This is the opposite of taking back control.
‘Legal action to prevent the Prime Minister suspending Parliament has already been fast-tracked through the courts and the legal team will now consider the appropriate next steps, including seeking interim orders.’
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tweeted: ‘Boris Johnson is acting like a dictator by attempting to shut down democracy to impose an extreme Brexit.
The Queen invites Boris Johnson to become Prime Minister at Buckingham Palace last month
‘He has no mandate, no majority, and he must be stopped. The SNP will be doing everything we can to stop Brexit and prevent a No-Deal disaster.
‘These disgraceful and undemocratic actions really do underline just how broken Westminster is.
‘Scotland has been completely ignored throughout the Brexit process, and we now face being dragged out of the EU against our will on the hardest terms.
‘Its no wonder that support for independence and a fresh referendum is higher than ever. It’s now beyond doubt, that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is by becoming an equal and independent European country.’