‘Dictator!’ Furious Richard Dawkins lashes out at Boris Johnson over ‘coup d’état’

Britain’s most famous atheist joined the list of celebrity Remainers criticising the Prime Minister for suspending Parliament in preparation for an October Queen’s Speech. Actor Hugh Grant, BBC sports presenter Gary Lineker and children’s author Philip Pullman have all also taken to social media to take a swipe at Mr Johnson.

Whatever else ‘take back control’ meant, it surely did not mean a coup d’état

Richard Dawkins

Dr Dawkins told followers on Twitter: “Whatever else ‘take back control’ meant, it surely did not mean a coup d’état to wrest control from Parliament and hand it over to a dictator.”

The God Delusion author re-tweeted the link to the petition, which has been signed by more than a million people, and encouraged fellow Remainers to add their names to it.

His remarks came after Mr Johnson asked the Queen to order the prorogation of Parliament.

The move has enraged opponents of a no deal Brexit who fear the suspension will mean there is no time to debate Britain’s departure from the European Union October 31.

But the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has hit back at the PM’s critics, saying the outpouring of outrage it triggered was “phoney”.

Mr Rees-Mogg insisted the prorogation move was not intended to limit the time available for MPs to debate Brexit but will allow the Government to tackle other issues.

He said: “I think the outrage is phoney and it is created by people who don’t want us to leave the European Union and are trying very hard to overturn the referendum result and don’t want the benefits of leaving the European Union.”

He added: “Parliament wasn’t going to be sitting for most of this time anyway. This is completely constitutional and proper.”

Mr Rees-Mogg led the Government’s defence of the prorogation as Labour and opposition parties vowed to press ahead with attempts to block a no-deal Brexit using legislation despite the decision to suspend Parliament for more than a month before the October 31 exit deadline.

Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner said: “It is going to be extremely difficult. That’s why the Government is disingenuous to say this is not about trying to stop us doing that.

“We will be seeking measures on Monday to try and have what is known as a Standing Order Section 24 debate. We will seek to try and put through the appropriate legislation in this constrained timetable that the Government has now put before us.

“Downing Street is lying when it claims this is about the conference recess. If he wanted to get on with his domestic agenda, he would in fact be having a shorter period of prorogation.”

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Thousands of people rallied for hours outside Parliamentlast night and there were smaller demonstrations in other towns and cities as Remainers reacted to the prorogation announcement.

Some Conservative MPs opposed to a no deal Brexit have also joined the chorus of disapproval as lawyers prepared legal challenges to the move in the English and Scottish courts.

Mr Johnson said he wanted to prorogue Parliament to bring the current record-breaking session to a close so he could press ahead with his Government’s new legislative agenda.

But former Tory prime minister Sir John Major was among those who attacked the move, saying he was seeking advice on its legality.

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