It's the end of democracy as we know it.

This government is autocratic.

Boris Johnson is running a tin-pot dictatorship.

A coup.

Just four of the quotes I've heard on the radio and TV over the last hour and all to do with the fact that the Prime Minister has announced that Parliament will be prorogued before a new Queen's Speech on October 14th.


Let's try to introduce a note of calmness to the debate. Prorogation is being portrayed by those who oppose it as some sort of unusual mechanism, and a means of thwarting debate over Brexit and 'no deal'.

It is not unusual. Up until the last two years, Parliament has been prorogued each year in advance of a Queen's Speech. This session of Parliament has lasted nearly two and a half years, the longest, so Sky News has just reported, since the English Civil War. So we are long overdue a Queen's Speech, and quite understandably a new prime minister, and effectively a new government, wants to set out its new legislative agenda. 

If Brexit wasn't happening, no one would be uttering a murmur. But it is.

Houses of Parliament

So does this move mean that Parliament will not be able to influence what happens? No. As Downing Street is pointing out, all this means is that three days of Parliamentary sittings will be lost in the week after the party conferences. Let me just repeat that - three days 8, 9 and 10 of October.

Dominic Grieve

Dominic Grieve has just alleged on Sky News that Parliament is being prorogued for five weeks. Utter tosh and the sort of misleading statement which is unworthy of him. Parliament was only scheduled to be sitting for three days in that time. "It's tantamount to a coup against Parliament," he went on. For a former Attorney General to indulge in this sort of ridiculous language is utterly disgraceful. Possibly a sign that he's utterly frit and realises his bluff has been called. He and his colleagues may have met their match.

The Government has set out a firm timetable in a letter to Conservative MPs which indicates that if a withdrawal agreement has been reached it would be debated and voted on on 21 and 22 October. 


If the Government were committing as The Speaker has just said "a constitutional outrage", they would be proroguing Parliament until November 1. If that happened there really would be grounds for complaint. It isn't, so there really aren't.

What amuses me greatly in this debate are the howls of outrage from Remainers in all parties who think it is disgraceful that the government is using parliamentary means to give effect to its policies, and yet they are quite happy themselves to use those very same means to thwart them. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, you might suppose.


This is a tweet from SDP member @Liberdade80...

Every time I hear a Remainer call for democracy to be respected, I remember these are the same people who wanted to overturn a democratic vote because they disagreed with it.

Quite. Difficult to argue with. Just listen to any Jo Swinson interview if you doubt it.

Theresa May's government didn't have the balls to do anything like this, and suffered the consequences. Whatever you think of what Boris Johnson has done today, it's quite clear he has a sense of direction and a strategy to bring about what he intends - which is to leave the EU on 31 October by any means possible.

Anna Soubry has just been on Sky ranting on about Boris Johnson having no mandate for 'no deal'. She omits to mention of course, that he has the mandate to do so precisely because MPs voted by 4-1 to trigger Article 50 back in March 2017. The natural consequence of this was that if a deal wasn't done, we would leave anyway. That was quite apparent at the time.

If MPs really think they can or should stop a 'no deal' Brexit that was always going to have to happen when Parliament comes back for two weeks in September. Prorogation doesn't change that one jot. The elimination of Parliament sitting on 8, 9 and 10 October doesn't change this at all. When Parliament returns there are still 12 sitting days before the crucial 31 October deadline date.


What I don't know is whether there is a mechanism for Parliament to overturn the prorogation. As I understand it, prorogation is solely the responsibility of the Government of the day. I am sure constitutional experts will be poring over parliamentary precedents to see what is possible, but it's difficult to see how MPs could overturn prorogation. Even if they passed a indicative vote, having grabbed control of the Order Paper, I'm not sure that would be enough.

Indeed, such a move could play into the government's hands. It would surely result in an election, which would take place after October 31. 'Make my day', Boris would say, I imagine.

Successful politicians seize the agenda before their opponents can. Whatever you think of the decision to prorogue Parliament, that's clearly what the Prime Minister has done this morning, and utterly wrongfooted his opponents. 

What happens now? Not a clue.

UPDATE: This is when Parliament hasn't sat over the last three years.

  • 2016 - 15th Sept to 10th Oct
  • 2017 - 14th Sept to 9th Oct
  • 2018 - 13th Sept to 9th Oct
  • 2019 - 9th Sept to 14th Oct