MEPs voice concern at plans to shut down UK Parliament in the run-up to Brexit day

Written by Brian Johnson on 28 August 2019 in News
News

Boris Johnson's decision to suspend UK Parliament is a "Nothing less than an anti-democratic power-grab " warns Dutch MEP Sophie in't Veld.

Photo Credit: Heidi Sandstrom by Unsplash


The prospect of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal increased following Johnson’s announcement that he will go ahead with plans to prorogue - or suspend - the activities of the country’s Parliament for five weeks from 9 September.

The proroguing is widely seen as an attempt to run down the clock on the time available for MPs to take action against Johnson’s plan to leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Johnson has vowed to leave by the 31 October, if no solution is found to resolve the controversial Irish Backstop contained in the Brexit Withdrawal agreement agreed between his predecessor Theresa May and the EU.


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The head of the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, Guy Verhofstadt, hit out at Johnson’s decision warning that the controversial Pro-Brexit campaigning slogan, “Taking back control” had “never looked so sinister”.

“Suspending Parliament is basically the suspension of democracy and the voice of the people. Nothing less than an anti-democratic power-grab” Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld

He added, “Suppressing debate on profound choices is unlikely to help deliver a stable future EU - UK relationship. As a fellow parliamentarian, my solidarity is with those fighting for their voices to be heard.”

Verhofstadt’s comments were echoed by Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld who also suggested that Johnson’s move to side-line MPs now made the “taking back control” slogan sound “quite sinister”.

She added, “Suspending Parliament is basically the suspension of democracy and the voice of the people. Nothing less than an anti-democratic power-grab”.

Johnson insisted the move would still allow "ample" time for MPs to debate Brexit before the 31 October deadline .

“Suppressing debate on profound choices is unlikely to help deliver a stable future EU - UK relationship. As a fellow parliamentarian, my solidarity is with those fighting for their voices to be heard” Head of the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, Guy Verhofstadt

But British Socialist deputy Richard Corbett remained unconvinced arguing that Johnson, “who is holding office as Prime Minister without a vote in Parliament to endorse him, now intends to suspend Parliament to prevent it stopping him from going ahead with a disastrous No Deal Brexit for which there is no democratic mandate. This is a coup.”

The Parliament Magazine’s sister UK site, PoliticsHome meanwhile reports that a number of British MPs have launched a legal bid to block Johnson's plan to shut down Parliament.

More than 70 of them have put their names to an emergency Court motion on Thursday. If it is upheld, it could make any attempt to prorogue Parliament by Johnson illegal.

Former UK Chancellor Philip Hammond, who resigned when Johnson took office in July, branded the move a "constitutional outrage" adding that it would be "profoundly undemocratic" if MPs were prevented from holding the government to account.

About the author

Brian Johnson is managing editor of the Parliament Magazine

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