National News

Over 1m against UK parliament suspension

More than a million people have signed a petition opposing the decision by Boris Johnson's government to prorogue Parliament for nearly five weeks ahead of Brexit.

By early Thursday it had garnered over 1.2 million signatures and was increasing by around 1,000 per minute, ten times the amount required for the issue be debated in the House of Commons, the UK's lower chamber of lawmaking.

The petition says: "Parliament must not be prorogued or dissolved unless and until the Article 50 period has been sufficiently extended or the UK's intention to withdraw from the EU has been cancelled."

It came as thousands of people marched outside Westminster on Wednesday evening, just hours after Johnson announced he would suspend Parliament from mid-September ? a week after MPs reconvene following the summer recess? until 14 October, when there would be a Queen's Speech.

A Queen's Speech is held when a new government wants to set out its legislative agenda, but the move was swiftly criticised by opposition politicians and rebel conservatives for its timing, coming just before the UK is slated to leave the EU on 31 October.

The suspension, authorised by Queen Elisabeth II, leaves little time for mps to debate legislation to block a possible no-deal Brexit, an option Johnson has hung onto should his government fail to negotiate changes to the current withdrawal deal.

That deal, a hangover from former prime minister Theresa May's government, was rejected three times by MPs in the Commons.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader who had been meeting with other opposition leaders this week to examine possible avenues to block a no-deal Brexit, said Wednesday he would request a meeting with the queen to ask her to reconsider Johnson's request.

The official Conservative Party government line is that it is normal to hold a Queen's Speech when a freshly formed executive wants to set out its program and that MPs would have time to vote on Brexit once Johnson returns from a European Council meeting scheduled for 17-18 October.

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons who normally remains impartial on the politics of parliamentary matters, on Wednesday described the move as a "constitutional outrage."

© RAW 2019