Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced the suspension of Parliament in the final weeks before Britain’s EU departure date, enraging anti-Brexit MPs.
Queen Elizabeth II has approved the request to close what has been the longest session of Parliament in nearly 400 years, and reopen it on October 14 setting out Mr. Johnson’s fresh legislative programme.
Seemingly caught on the hop, incensed anti-Brexit MPs were left scrambling for a way to stop the move.
Mr. Johnson’s announcement came after six Opposition parties said on Tuesday they would first seek to legislate to prevent leaving the EU without a deal when Parliament returns from a summer recess next week.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the main Opposition Labour Party, has said he wants to call a vote of no-confidence in Mr. Johnson’s government, which commands a majority of just one seat.
John Bercow, the Speaker of Parliament’s lower House of Commons, described the closure as a “constitutional outrage” designed to stymie debate on Brexit, with Britain currently on course to crash out without a divorce deal.
An EU summit on October 17-18 could decide whether Britain ends its four decades of membership without a withdrawal agreement that governs future trade relations and citizens rights.
Mr. Johnson said there would be “ample time” either side of the summit for MPs to debate Brexit.
He said it was “completely untrue” that the move was designed to stop MPs blocking his Brexit strategy.
Mr. Johnson said it was to “bring forward a new, bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit”.
The government’s chief Brexit adviser David Frost was in Brussels for talks on Wednesday.
In the seismic 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership, 52% voted in favour of leaving the bloc, a result that has left parliament and the country bitterly divided.
Mr. Johnson insists Britain must leave on the October 31 deadline — already twice-delayed — with or without a divorce deal from Brussels.
Parliament has rejected three times the withdrawal agreement struck between Brussels and the government of Mr. Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May. Parliament typically goes into recess again around the annual party conference season, which kicks off on September 14 and ends on October 2.
Mr. Bercow, who was not forewarned about Mr. Johnson’s suspension decision, said: “It is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit.”
“Shutting down Parliament would be an offence against the democratic process.”
Mr. Corbyn called it “an outrage” and a “smash-and-grab on our democracy in order to force through a no-deal exit”, while Labour’s Finance spokesman John McDonnell branded it a “coup”.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake tweeted: “The mother of all parliaments will not allow him to shut the people’s parliament out of the biggest decision facing our country. His declaration of war will be met with an iron fist.”