Queen Elizabeth II approved UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s unprecedented request to prorogue the parliament, limiting the time for MPs to stop a no-deal Brexit, which is set to take place on October 31.
Johnson asked the Queen to suspend the UK parliament in September for a crucial five-week period, a request she, as has always been the case with prime ministerial requests, granted. In theory, she could have refused, but being politically neutral, that could have led to an even bigger crisis. This has allowed the government to suspend the parliament no earlier than Monday, September 9, and no later than Thursday, September 12, until Monday, October 14.
Though it is normal for new governments to shut down to hold a Queen’s Speech, this prorogation comes at a crucial time. The prime minister said a Queen’s Speech would now take place on October 14 to outline his “very exciting agenda”, which includes funding the national health service and tackling violent crime.
Johnson has taken a hard line in his handling of Brexit, a subject that has taken British politics by storm since the referendum in 2016, by assuring that the UK will leave the European Union with or without a deal.
Undoubtedly, Johnson’s boldest move since he took charge over from former prime minister Theresa May a month ago, has caused widespread outrage across Britain. The suspension means there will be less time for the parliament to provide alternatives to a no-deal Brexit – just seventeen days before the deadline, but Johnson said MPs have enough time.
The move has been widely seen as an attempt to push Johnson’s own strategy to leave the EU and not give MPs a say in how it plays out. The House of Commons speaker, John Bercow, called it a “constitutional outrage” with the goal of preventing Brexit debate.
The opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has asked to meet the Queen, calling the monarchy out for being set directly against the wishes of the majority of Commons MPs. "Suspending parliament is not acceptable. What the prime minister is doing is a smash and grab on our democracy to force through a no deal," he said, adding that when MPs return to the Commons next Tuesday, they’ll attempt legislation to prevent the prime minister’s actions, followed by a vote of confidence at some point.
Hundreds of protestors gathered in Westminster, where the parliament is located, carrying anti-Brexit placards and EU flags while rallying a call to ‘stop the coup’. The protest began outside the parliament and moved to Downing Street, the residence of the prime minister. Following the news, the British Pound Sterling fell to its lowest value in the week, at $1.10.
Due to the drastic reduction in available parliamentary time, the vote of confidence is likely to go through, which could lead to a possible general election in October, Britain’s third since 2015.