As the United Kingdom’s Brexit deadline of October 31st draws closer, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has successfully convinced Queen Elizabeth II to approve a suspension of the current session of Parliament until October 14th, less than two weeks before Brexit.
Johnson had called for the current session to end sometime between September 9th and 12th, and to reconvene on October 14th, when the Queen will give the official Queen’s Speech outlining the agenda of the next legislative session. Although the suspension of Parliament is not an unusual or uncommon move in British politics, this decision will significantly reduce the amount of time that Parliament is in session before Johnson’s officially-declared Halloween deadline for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union.
Although Johnson has insisted that this decision was made in order to push his domestic agenda – including improving costs of living and the National Health Service, as well as fighting violent crime – critics quickly pounced on this move as being motivated by the looming Brexit deadline, with many claiming that this increases the likelihood of a “no-deal” Brexit due to even less time remaining to negotiate a possible withdrawal agreement.
The socialist leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, declared that Johnson’s decision was “an outrage and a threat to our democracy.” Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the left-wing and anti-Brexit Scottish National Party, echoed Corbyn’s rhetoric by calling it “a dark [day] indeed for UK democracy.”
Conversely, Johnson’s move was defended by the Conservative Party’s only other coalition partner, the Democratic Unionist Party, which pointed out that the current session of Parliament, which has lasted since 2017, is “the longest Parliamentary Session since the Union of England and Scotland in 1707.” Nigel Farage, the leader of the new Brexit Party and the man widely seen as the mastermind behind the successful Brexit referendum in 2016, supported the decision and said that if Johnson does pursue a no-deal Brexit, then the Brexit Party “would like to help him secure a large majority in a general election.”
This is one of the biggest steps yet in the saga of Brexit, which started when 52 percent of U.K. voters elected to leave the E.U. in the referendum of 2016. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron resigned after having campaigned for the “Remain” vote, and was replaced by Theresa May, who ultimately failed to secure a majority consensus on a deal after three years. She was replaced in July by Johnson, who was one of the key backers of “Leave” in the referendum campaign and has vowed to leave on October 31st, with or without a deal.