The UK Reacts Over Boris Johnson’s Controversial Decision To Suspend Parliament


Days ago, new prime minister Boris Johnson made a controversial decision to suspend both the Commons and Lords for more than a month in the run-up to the date of EU withdrawal – reports the Independent. The decision was approved by the Queen at a private session of the Privy Council in Balmoral, allowing parliament to be ‘prorogued’ from the second week in September until 14 October.

Many have questioned why the Queen would approve the provocative prorogation of parliament; however, former UK Supreme Court Decision Justice Lord Jonathan Sumption spoke to the BBC and said that the Queen was bound to take the governments advice as it commands a majority in the House of Commons. He added that the relations between the Crown and Parliament are governed by conventions which are “based on political sentiment, and on the basis that they are binding only in the sense that it would be politically costly to disregard them” – reports the BBC. Sumption also suggested that while Johnson’s move was lawful, it was “being done for a mistaken political motive”. Therefore, it must be asked, what is this motive and what are the consequences of suspending parliament?

The parliamentary process of suspending parliament is a method in which to end the sitting of a parliamentary session, allowing the executive, Johnson in this case, to carry out its business (Brexit negotiations) without interference from MP’s. Unless MP’s or campaigners manage to stop the plan to dissolve parliament, the prorogation of parliament is a bid to push through a no deal Brexit – reports the Guardian. Preventing other MP’s from debating Brexit negotiations is averting opponents from blocking a no-deal Brexit, which can only be described as wildly undemocratic. The suspension of parliament has been reacted with fury from both the British public and MP’s across the political spectrum. Common speaker John Bercow, whom otherwise is bound by convention and with tradition requiring him to remain neutral, spoke out and called the decision a “constitutional outrage” and “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” – reports the Independent. Former Conservative prime minster Sir John Major said he is seeking advice on the legality of Johnson’s move by saying he has “no doubt his motive was “to bypass a sovereign parliament that opposes his policy on Brexit”.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote a letter to the Queen before she approved the decision which stated that the manoeuvre would “deprive the electorate of the opportunity to have their representatives hold the government to account”. However, with this letter and countless other attempts failing to prevent the prorogation of parliament, we are witnessing more political turmoil which is fragmenting British politics and stirring up chaos across the country. Labour MP Diane Abbott spoke the BBC and said, “Boris does not represent the people, he’s never represented the people. This is Boris versus the people. And the people are going to fight”. With protests erupting across the country, this is exactly what is happening. The British public is speaking up to maintain democracy and fight for their constitutional right to be represented equally and fairly.

Thousands took to the streets in Manchester, Leeds, York and Belfast with protesters in London bringing parts of the city to a standstill with chants including “Boris Johnson, shame on you” being echoed throughout – reports the BBC. The protests were quickly organised under the hashtag #StopTheCoup, with the Financial Times reporting of a protester outside Downing Street whom said he was protesting because of outrage at what appeared to be an attempt to achieve no-deal Brexit through “scurrilous means”.

Suspending parliament is inherently undemocratic and is undoubtedly concerning, with it being unknown about what is going to happen to our system of government beyond Brexit. Corbyn described the move as “a smash-and-grab raid against our democracy” and that is exactly how it feels. Johnson is removing himself from scrutiny and opposition, disregarding the very people whom he is supposed to help represent and assist, and moving forward with a no-deal Brexit that is not agreed upon by the majority of the country. We are witnessing political history and delving deeper into political chaos. Even though Johnson has isolated the British public from the parliamentary walls, he has not removed the democratic right of free speech and the right for peaceful protest. Therefore, pick up your pens and your placards of catchy slogans and hit the streets unapologetically to express your outrage over Johnson’s ‘one man show’. We remain in a crucial time and Johnson is arrogantly attempting to force through a no-deal Brexit against the democratic will and is outrageously suppressing the voices of us the British public, and our representatives that we rightly elected. We cannot let one man make the decisions for the whole country, so remain outspoken and use your voices for positive progression.

Katie Clarke

A Sociology graduate and a current MA student in Applied Human Rights, with an interest in intersectional feminism, human rights and social justice.
Katie Clarke

About Katie Clarke

A Sociology graduate and a current MA student in Applied Human Rights, with an interest in intersectional feminism, human rights and social justice.