"It's done," tweets a BBC reporter. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will temporarily shut down Parliament, squeezing the time for the opposition to thwart a no-deal Brexit. In comments on Wednesday, Johnson confirmed earlier reports that he had asked the queen to suspend parliament. The privy council that advises the queen met with her Wednesday at Balmoral and approved the order. The Queen's Speech—normally a formality that outlines the legislative agenda—will take place on Oct. 14. The AP explains that since Parliament is normally suspended before the speech, the decision means Parliament will be on ice from early September until then, making it unlikely that opposition lawmakers would have enough time to pass laws blocking the UK's exit from the European Union on Oct. 31 without a negotiated deal. More:
- The BBC reports Johnson said it was "completely untrue" that the move was part of a plan to end up with a no-deal Brexit and that there would be "ample time" to take up the subject. NBC News reports he said the current parliamentary session's duration has simply been too long.
- The BBC reports such sessions are typically a year in length; this one has been in effect since June 2017. Sky News quotes a letter from Johnson explaining that translates to more than 340 working days; "in almost 400 years only the 2010-12 session comes close, at 250 days."
- On the prior two occasions where Parliament was suspended for a Queen's Speech (one that did not follow a general election), Parliament was closed for periods of four and 13 working days; in this case, it would be closed for 23 working days.
- Lawmakers are reacting with fury. Opposition Labour Party lawmaker Ben Bradshaw called the move "a coup, plain and simple, against our parliamentary democracy" that would "drag the monarch into an unprecedented constitutional crisis."
- Scottish Parliament leader Nicola Sturgeon tweeted, "Unless MPs come together to stop him next week, today will go down in history as a dark one indeed for UK democracy." CNN notes Johnson has a parliamentary majority of one, making it entirely possible that he could lose a no-confidence vote.
- NBC News quotes the Institute for Government think tank as saying that "asking the queen to give effect to this strategy would draw her into a massive political debate—something which Number 10 and the Palace are normally at great pains to avoid."
- The British currency has fallen sharply on these reports, with the pound falling to $1.2187 on Wednesday from about $1.2300 the day before, a sign that investors are alarmed by the prospect of Britain falling out of the European Union on Oct. 31 without a divorce deal.
- A so-called no-deal Brexit would see the return of border checks and tariffs on trade between Britain and the rest of the EU, its greatest trading partner.
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