British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to suspend the UK parliament has prompted an angry backlash from lawmakers and sparked furious protests across the country as well as some calls to consider legal actions against the decision.
Johnson, who has repeatedly vowed that Britain will leave the European Union (EU) with or without a deal, asked Queen Elizabeth last week to suspend the Parliament just for five weeks from 10 September to 14 October. The Queen approved his request.
The suspension comes a few weeks before the Brexit deadline which is supposed to be on 31 October. Consequently, Johnson’s move to suspend parliament until October 14 — just two-and-a-half weeks before Brexit — has sparked a storm of criticism. Critics reject the decision because they fear it means that MPs will not have enough time to discuss the Brexit. However, the government insists that there will be time to debate the Brexit.
In response, thousands of protesters took to the streets across the UK against Johnson’s move. A group called “Another Europe is Possible”, an anti-Brexit campaign, organized protests on Saturday against Johnson. “We won’t let Boris Johnson shut down democracy to push through No deal.”
Meanwhile, a movement named “Stop the Coup”, said that protests will take place on more than 30 cities and towns on Saturday.
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across different cities, including Manchester, Leeds, York and Belfast. In London, Whitehall has been brought to a standstill, with protesters chanting “Boris Johnson, shame on you”.
Users on Twitter shared on Saturday videos and photos of protesters holding banners in which written “Defend Democracy. Resist The Parliament ShutDown.”
On the other hand, Brexit supporters received Johnson’s move with relief, as they aspire that the country will finally leave the EU, ending a three-year stalemate since since the leave referendum.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow reacted with fury to Johnson’s decision, describing it as “constitutional outrage”.
Bercow affirmed that he was not consulted by Johnson before the suspension. He explained that it was made to prevent MPs from debating Brexit.
“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,” Bercow said in a statement.
Meanwhile, MP Philip Hammond said that “It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis. Profoundly undemocratic.”
On the other hand, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, pledged to prevent Johnson from suspending the Parliament when the House of Commons returns next week.
“Boris Johnson’s attempt to suspend parliament to avoid scrutiny of his plans for a reckless No Deal Brexit is an outrage and a threat to our democracy,” Corbyn tweeted Thursday.
Corbyn added that the Labour party “will work across Parliament to hold the government to account and prevent a disastrous No Deal.”
A joint statement was issued on Thursday from the UK Labour Party, the SNP (Scotland’s largest political party and a party of Government), the Liberal Democrats, the Independent Group for Change, and the Green Party to stop “Johnson’s smash and grab on democracy.”
“We condemn the undemocratic actions of Boris Johnson following his suspension of parliament until 14 October,” the statement read.
“There is no mandate from the public for a damaging no-deal Brexit. The Prime Minister is shutting down parliament with the sole aim of stopping MPs from avoiding a no-deal Brexit,” the statement added.
“This will be the longest prorogation in recent history, and one that comes at a critical moment in the history of our respective nations and the Brexit process.”
“Voters are being deprived of the opportunity to have their representatives hold the government to account, make any key decisions, and ensure there is a lawful basis for any action that is taken,” the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, a petition against the Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament has received more than a million signatures.
Moreover, former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major announced he will join forces with anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller to oppose the decision to suspend Parliament in the courts.
Johnson pledges better deal
The UK was supposed to leave the EU on 29 March this year, but the date of the withdrawal was extended after the parliament rejected formed PM Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill three times.
Earlier in March, May announced in an emotional statement that she would resign as UK’s Prime Minister and stood down as leader of the Conservative party on 7 June.
May held office in July 2016 and became the UK’s second female prime minister. May took her decision after she failed to gain support for the Brexit deal that she reached with the EU.
Afterwards, Johnson, 55, was appointed as the new UK Prime Minister – without elections after winning the Conservative Party leadership vote. After his appointment, he pledged to get a new deal, a better deal” from the EU. He also picked a new cabinet from hard Brexit supporters.
The US President Donald Trump reacted to Johnson move of suspension the parliament, saying that it be very hard for Jeremy Corbyn “to seek a no-confidence vote against New Prime Minister Boris Johnson, especially in light of the fact that Boris is exactly what the UK has been looking for and will prove to be “a great one.”
Trump was one of the first leaders who congratulated Johnson on being the new British Prime Minister, affirming that “he will be great.”
The UK joined the EU in 1973 when the EU was known as “European Economic Community” (EEC). On 23 June 2016, a public referendum was held on whether the UK should leave the EU or not. Voters agreed with 52%, while 48% said no.
Then, the ‘Brexit’ word appeared, as it refers to Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Since the vote, Theresa May had been struggling to reach a “divorce deal” and settlement for the future relations with the bloc following the separation.
May suggested an agreement which covered three points, the UK financial settlement to break up with the EU, the rights of the UK citizens living in the EU countries, and the EU citizens living in the UK. The third point was how to avoid a “hard border” between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU).
Effects on the economy
On Friday, the Bank of England (BoE) said that Brexit process has cut the productivity of British companies by between 2% and 5% since the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Most of the shortfall reflects a drop in productivity within businesses as senior managers commit several hours per week to plan for Brexit, the researchers said.
“We also find evidence for smaller negative between-firm effects as more productive, internationally exposed, firms have been more negatively impacted than less productive domestic firms,” the report said.
The BoE research said that, since the EU referendum, “anticipation of Brexit has substantially reduced UK investment”, estimating the effect lowered capital spending by 11% compared with what would have happened. Real business investment has been flat since the 2016 referendum, which has been unusual at a time of high employment rates and lower than in other advanced economies.
All in all, BoE research adds to evidence that the Brexit vote has taken a toll on the UK businesses even before Britain leaves the EU, now due to take place on Oct. 31.