Boris Johnson announced he will suspend parliament for almost a month ahead of the October 31 Brexit date.
In a letter to all Conservative MPs, he said he has asked the queen to end the current session during the second week of September, before reopening it on October 14.
Johnson claimed a Queen’s Speech would take place after the suspension, on 14 October, to outline his “very exciting agenda”.
But it means MPs are unlikely to have time to pass laws to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.
But the Boris Johnson said it was “completely untrue” to suggest the suspension was motivated by a desire to force through no deal.
He said he did not want to wait until after Brexit “before getting on with our plans to take this country forward”, and insisted there would still be “ample time” for MPs to debate the UK’s departure.
“We need new legislation. We’ve got to be bringing forward new and important bills and that’s why we are going to have a Queen’s Speech,” he added.
In his letter, Johnson said the current two-year parliamentary session has “at times seemed more about filling time.” He added: “I therefore intend to bring forward a new bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit. There will be a significant Brexit legislative programme to get through but that should be no excuse for a lack of ambition!”
He said it is right that MPs get to express their view about his plans before and after the European Council summit starting on October 17 — with votes on the queen’s speech penciled in for October 21 and 22.
Downing Street said a Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be a “central feature” of the legislative program, assuming Johnson brokers a Brexit deal with Brussels.
MPs were outraged.
It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis. Profoundly undemocratic.
— Philip Hammond (@PhilipHammondUK) August 28, 2019
Tory MP Dominic Grieve, who has been central to the plots to prevent a no-deal, said suspending parliament would be “outrageous.”
“If the prime minister persists with this and doesn’t back off, then I think the chances are that his administration will collapse,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“There is plenty of time to do that if necessary [and] I will certainly vote to bring down a Conservative government that persists in a course of action which is so unconstitutional.”
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, who has been vocal in defending the independence and rights of parliament, also weighed in, calling the move a “constitutional outrage.”
in a statement Bercow says:
“I have had no contact from the government, but if the reports that it is seeking to prorogue Parliament are confirmed, this move represents a constitutional outrage.
“However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country. At this time, one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, it is vital that our elected Parliament as it’s say. After all we live in a parliamentary democracy.
“Shutting down Parliament would be an offence against the democratic process and the rights of parliamentarians as the People’s elected representatives.
“ Surely at this early stage in his Premiership, the prime minister should be seeking to establish rather than undermine his democratic credentials and indeed is commitment to parliamentary democracy.
“My family and I are away on holiday I will make no further comment at this stage.”
MPs could still try to legislate to stop a no-deal Brexit when parliament returns from its summer break next week, but would struggle in such a short space of time.
Johnson defended the move in a pooled clip for broadcasters. He said claims the suspension is an “insult to democracy” are “completely untrue.”
“We’re bringing forward a new legislative program on crime, on hospitals, making sure that we have the education funding that we need,” he said.
“And there will be ample time on both sides of that crucial October 17 summit, ample time in parliament for MPs to debate the EU, to debate Brexit and all the other issues.”
MPs usually have a three-week break during September to hold party conferences, but there had been speculation that this conference recess would be scrapped this year to give extra time to debate Brexit.