Politics

What does prorogue Parliament mean and what is Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan?

Boris Johnson has confirmed he plans to hold a Queen’s Speech on October 14.

That means MPs face a race against time to thwart the Prime Minister taking the UK out of the EU without a deal.

Johnson says he wants an opportunity to set up new bills to ‘level up’ spending on his priorities, including the NHS, education and policing.

But his plan will also dramatically cut down the amount of time MPs have to block Johnson pressing forward with a chaotic no-deal Brexit .

Here’s everything you need to know about Boris Johnson ’s new plan – and what it means for Brexit.

What is Boris Jonson doing – and why does it mean shutting down Parliament

He’s setting the date for a Queen’s Speech and State Opening of Parliament (which happen together on the same day).

This effectively reboots Parliament, setting off a new ‘session’ and shutting down the old one.

This usually happens every year – but it doesn’t have to, and Theresa May chose not to have a Queen’s Speech in 2018-19, so she’d have more time to push Brexit plans through.

That means we've now had the longest gap between Queen's Speeches for more than 400 years.

To trigger a Queen's Speech Parliament has to have a short break, which usually lasts a few days.

And when MPs return, the slate is clear. Any legislation that was in the process of passing through Parliament is cancelled and MPs start the new session effectively from scratch.

What does proroguing Parliament mean?

'Prorouguing' means to suspend a session of Parliament without dissolving it.

So ending one session and kicking off a new one with a Queen's Speech. Rebooting Parliament.

Charles I famously prorogued Parliament and kept it from sitting for 11 years between 1629 and 1640. That’s why you may be seeing comparisons to a power-mad king.

What is the Queen’s Speech?

It’s the (usually) annual address given by the Monarch to MPs and peers, opening the new session of Parliament.

It’s used by the Prime Minister to outline the Government’s legislative programme for the upcoming session.

How long would Parliament be suspended for?

That hasn’t been fully confirmed, but here’s the most likely scenario.

Parliament is expected to return from recess on Tuesday September 3. It’s then expected to sit until September 11 or 12, when it would break up for party conference season.

Usually, Parliament would return straight away after the end of Conservative Party Conference, which finishes on October 2.

What’s being suggested is that instead the Queen will end the current session of Parliament on September 11 or 12, leaving a longer gap all the way to October 14.

How would this affect plan to stop no deal?

It massively slashes the amount of time MPs have to pass any kind of blocking measures through Parliament.

Let’s assume the Commons sits Monday to Friday – which it doesn’t always, but let’s assume it would in a crunch.

If the original timeline were to take place, there would be a maximum of eight sitting days before the conference recess.

And assuming they returned the Monday after Tory conference, there would be scope for 19 sitting days between then and the October 31 deadline.

That’s 27 days in which an anti-no-deal coalition could work on ways to block it.

Now, if there’s a Queen’s Speech on October 14, in all likelihood Parliament would stay in recess for the week before.

There are usually five full days of debate following a Queen’s Speech – and another two days of votes on the speech on October 21-22.

This would make it exceptionally difficult to schedule any further business in the Commons during that time.

So that would leave just seven potential sitting days between conferences and the Brexit deadline – and just 14 in total.

There’s also the small matter of the European Council meeting on October 17, which will be the PM’s last opportunity to seal a new deal with the EU.

Boris Johnson this morning said there will be “ample time” to debate Brexit before and after the October 17 meeting.

Can it be challenged in the courts?

Former Prime Minister John Major had already warned he would take High Court action to stop Boris Johnson suspending Parliament to ram through no-deal.

Gina Miller, the anti-Brexit campaigner, made similar noises.

Within hours of the announcement, Remainer QC Jo Maugham said he was initiating legal action to try to stop Boris Johnson.

Can MPs hold a Parliament anyway?

Technically yes, but it won't have legal effect.

It comes just a day after Jeremy Corbyn and opposition leaders agreed to table a law next week aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

More than 200 MPs also signed a declaration in Westminster's Church House, vowing to carry on sitting in an alternative venue if Parliament is suspended.

Moments before the Queen's Speech emerged, Tory Rory Stewart warned MPs would continue to run Parliament somewhere else if it was suspended.

Labour MP Clive Lewis added: "The police will have to remove us from the chamber. We will call on people to take to the streets. We will call an extraordinary session of Parliament."

Can the Queen say no?

She can, but she won’t. And she hasn't.

The Queen’s role in this is almost entirely ceremonial. Even her speech to Parliament is written by the Government.

Constitutional experts have said The Queen would do everything possible to avoid becoming involved in any political battle the country finds itself in.

What is the Privy Council?


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