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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.

The big picture: The prime minister typically asks the queen — historically, an apolitical figure — to prorogue Parliament once a year in order to bring an end to legislative business. When Parliament returns for its new session, the queen makes a speech setting out the government's agenda.

  • Prorogations typically only last a matter of days, but this one is lengthy because it encompasses a period of time previously set aside for Parliament to recess for annual political party conferences. By choosing to prorogue instead, Johnson's government ensured that opposition members can't cancel the recess to focus on stopping Brexit.

The state of play: Johnson was elected leader of the Conservative Party on the promise that he will deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 "do or die" — with or without a deal. A majority of members of Parliament oppose a no-deal Brexit, which experts and even Johnson's own government admit could cause shortages of food, fuel, medicine and more.

  • Johnson and the EU essentially have one more chance to strike a deal during the European Council session on Oct. 17–18, though it's highly unlikely that will happen. If, by some miracle, the two sides do come to an agreement, Parliament will have between Oct. 21–31 to approve the deal.

What they're saying: Activists and politicians who oppose leaving without a deal are outraged that Johnson has taken the extreme step of undercutting Parliament's power at such a critical moment.

  • Commons Speaker John Bercow, who had previously said he would fight an attempt to circumvent Parliament with "every bone in my body," condemned the move as a "constitutional outrage."
  • Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn said his Labour Party would join other members of Parliament in doing "everything we can" to "stop Boris Johnson's smash-and-grab against our democracy."
  • More than 1 million people have signed a petition demanding that Parliament not be suspended unless the Brexit deadline is extended.

What's next? Parliament will return from recess to sit for a short session next week, during which lawmakers are expected to take steps to block a no-deal Brexit in the limited time they have.

  • Option 1 is a legislative fix forcing the government to seek another extension from the EU, but there are no binding Brexit bills currently on the agenda.
  • Option 2 is a vote of no-confidence, which would give MPs a window of 14 days to form a caretaker unity government with the express purpose of blocking no-deal.
  • Option 3 is a general election, assuming anti-no-deal lawmakers can't gather enough support to form a government. But Downing Street officials have already said that Johnson would likely hold any snap election after Brexit has been completed on Oct. 31.

The bottom line, via BuzzFeed News: "One senior Brexiteer equated Downing Street’s strategy to a [soccer] team wasting time at the end of a match. 'We are into the final ten minutes and we are holding the ball by the corner flag.'"

Go deeper: The scramble to build barriers to Boris

Go deeper

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

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