Parliament recalled for Duke of Edinburgh tributes

Campaigning for 6 May elections suspended for period of mourning

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Friday 09 April 2021 18:20 BST
Downing Street lowers flag to half-mast after Prince Philip's death

Parliament is to be recalled on Monday to allow MPs to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh following his death earlier today.

Prime minister Boris Johnson will lead the tributes from 2.30pm, as the House of Commons reconvenes a day early after its Easter break.

Mr Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have agreed to suspend campaigning for the 6 May elections for a period of mourning, and ministers will also cancel planned interviews, visits and non-urgent announcements.

The prime minister himself will forgo his planned trip to a pub for a pint to celebrate the return of outdoors hospitality on Monday, though the relaxation of lockdown restrictions will go ahead as planned.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office has joined with Buckingham Palace in asking the public not to gather at royal residences or to leave floral tributes, in order to avoid crowds which might create an increased risk of Covid-19 infection.

Mr Johnson chaired a meeting of Whitehall departments involved in preparations for Prince Philip’s funeral, along with representatives of police and royal households, at 4pm on Friday, followed by a 5pm cabinet meeting at which ministers were able to pay their own tributes to the Duke.

The regular Downing Street coronavirus press conferences have been suspended, though the government will continue to issue any urgent public health information.

House of Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “This is obviously a very sad day for Her Majesty, the Royal Family and the whole country.

“The Duke of Edinburgh has given his unwavering support to the Queen, both as a husband and as a consort. Described by Her Majesty as ‘my constant strength’, he served this country too, first with distinction during the Second World War and selflessly throughout eight decades during peacetime. 

“His was a long life that saw so much dedication to duty. Today we must pause to honour him and to offer our sincerest thanks for the Prince’s devout faithfulness to our country – and all the nations shall miss him greatly.”

The House of Lords was already scheduled to return from recess on Monday at 1pm, but officials said they were finalising arrangements and any adjustments to business.

The most recent House of Commons recall from recess took place on 6 January to enable MPs to debate emergency Covid-19 legislation.

Other recalls in recent years include that of 20 June 2016, to allow MPs to pay tribute to their murdered colleague Jo Cox.

Campaigning has recently got under way for the 6 May elections for the Scottish and Welsh parliaments, mayors in London and other cities, English local councils and police and crime commissioners, as well as the Hartlepool by-election.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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