Aug 13, 2019

U.K. speaker vows to stop Boris Johnson from closing Parliament to force Brexit

John Bercow. Photo: House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images

The U.K.'s Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said Tuesday that he will not allow Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament in order to force through a no-deal Brexit at the end of October, the Telegraph reports.

"The one thing I feel strongly about is that the House of Commons must have its way. If there is an attempt to circumvent, to bypass or - God forbid! - to close down Parliament; that is anathema to me and I will fight it with every bone in my body to stop that happening. We cannot have a situation in which Parliament is shut down — we are a democratic society."

Why it matters: The newly elected Johnson has vowed to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 "by any means necessary," despite warnings from economists and other experts about the dire consequences of the U.K. leaving the EU without a divorce deal. That includes the possibility of suspending Parliament in order to prevent MPs from passing legislation to force a Brexit extension or a second referendum — an extreme measure that would likely be met with a court challenge.

The state of play: Parliament is currently on recess, but MPs from several parties — including Johnson's own Conservative Party — are expected to take steps to block a no-deal Brexit when they return in September. Those steps could include bringing a vote of no confidence against Johnson's government, which — if successful — could force him to hold a general election.

  • Yes, but: Johnson's senior-most adviser Dominic Cummings has reportedly indicated that Johnson would not hold an election until Nov. 1 — the day after a no deal Brexit would ensue as the legal default.
  • Queen Elizabeth is likely the only person with the constitutional authority to force Johnson to resign if he lost a no-confidence vote, but she has historically remained apolitical.

Go deeper: John Bolton says U.S. enthusiastically backs no-deal Brexit

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What Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament means for Brexit

Queen Elizabeth II welcomes U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Victoria Jones/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II approved Wednesday U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's request to "prorogue," or suspend, Parliament between the second week of September and Oct. 14.

Between the lines: In a letter to lawmakers, Johnson said he had asked the queen to suspend Parliament to give his government a fresh chance to set out a "new bold and ambitious domestic agenda." While this may be grounded in some truth, the real purpose of the dramatic move is to limit the amount of time opposition members of Parliament have to block a "no-deal" Brexit, the default — and potentially disastrous — legal option on Oct. 31.

Go deeperArrowAug 28, 2019

Brexit countdown: The scramble to build barriers to Boris

Boris Johnson visits the Fusion Energy Research Centre at the Culham Science Centre on August 8, 2019 in Abingdon, England. Photo: Julian Simmonds - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Boris Johnson has ordered the U.K.'s civil service to make preparations for a no-deal Brexit its "top priority," a directive that comes the same week the government has reportedly drawn up plans to stop British diplomats from attending EU meetings.

Why it matters: 3 weeks into his premiership, Johnson appears hell-bent on fulfilling the campaign promise that paved his path to Downing Street: delivering Brexit on Oct. 31, "do or die."

The optionsArrowAug 15, 2019

Westminster mayhem

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images

The U.K. House of Commons voted 327-299 on Wednesday to pass a bill forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek a Brexit extension rather than take the country out of the European Union on Oct. 31 without a divorce deal.

Why it matters: Less than a day after expelling 21 rebel lawmakers from his own Conservative Party, Johnson saw his government defeated in Parliament for the 2nd consecutive time. Hours later, Parliament rejected Johnson's proposal to hold a general election on Oct. 15, which he hoped could earn him a fresh majority to resolve the Brexit impasse.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 4, 2019