British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will limit parliament’s ability to derail his Brexit plan by cutting the amount of time it will sit between now and EU exit day on Oct. 31, infuriating opponents who urged Queen Elizabeth to intervene.
In his boldest move yet to take the country out of the European Union with or without a divorce deal, Johnson set Oct. 14 for the Queen’s Speech – the formal state opening of a new session of parliament that is proceeded by a suspension of the House of Commons.
The queen agreed to the date, effectively shutting parliament from mid-September for around a month.
Incensed, opposition leaders wrote to the queen to express their concern and asked for a meeting, threatening to drag the 93-year-old monarch into the constitutional crisis.
“There will be ample time in parliament for MPs (Members of Parliament) to debate the EU, to debate Brexit and all the other issues, ample time,” Johnson told reporters.
Asked if he was trying to block MPs from delaying Britain’s EU departure, he replied: “That is completely untrue.”
While suspending parliament ahead of a Queen’s Speech is the historical norm in Britain, the decision to limit parliamentary scrutiny weeks before the country’s most contentious policy decision in decades prompted an immediate outcry.
It also increased the chances Johnson could face a vote of no-confidence in parliament, potentially leading to an election.
“Make no mistake, this is a very British coup,” John McDonnell, the second most powerful man in the opposition Labor Party, said. “Whatever one’s views on Brexit, once you allow a prime minister to prevent the full and free operation of our democratic institutions you are on a very precarious path.”
The Church of England said a chaotic EU exit would hurt the poor, the speaker of parliament said politicians must be heard and a group of cross-party lawmakers sought a legal injunction.