Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament in a bid to thwart a coalition of remain MPs from undermining his Brexit threat to leave the EU without a deal on October 31.
The suspension – or prorogation – of Parliament means ministers and MPs retain their roles while civil servants keep the wheels of government turning, but no new legislation can progress through Westminster while the suspension applies.
In a fell swoop, that cuts the time Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and other politicians may have for any attempt to defeat a no deal Brexit from within Parliament.
Although the Queen is politely asked to prorogue Parliament, she will carry out the wishes of the Prime Minister, who is her chief adviser.
The suspension will last until October 14, when the Queen will make here traditional speech to open a new session of Parliament.
Johnson and his ministers assert a suspension of Parliament is normal in September to make way for party conferences.
The decision has provoked anger from Brexit no deal opposition parties.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said it was a “constitutional outrage” even though he is supposed to maintain a neutral role.
“However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of suspending Parliament now would be to stop MPs debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.”
“It would be “an offence against the democratic process and the rights of Parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives.”
But the move also strengthens Johnson’s hand in pressuring the EU to renegotiate a Brexit deal. They can no longer afford to await the outcome of Remainers to block Britain leaving the EU without a deal and must now reconsider opening new talks with the UK government.
Prorogation is a controversial political tool because opponents claim the measure takes away the democratic right of MPs to temper government policy.
In this case though, those claiming the loss of their democratic rights are blunting the same rights of the majority who voted to leave the European Union in the June 2016 referendum.