Brexit: Boris Johnson accused of acting like 'tin-pot dictator' launching coup against parliament

‘An outrage and a threat to our democracy,’ says Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 28 August 2019 12:48 BST
Boris Johnson confirms prorogation of parliament

Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the second week of September has sparked a furious reaction from MPs from all sides of the house.

The prime minister has been accused of acting like a “tin pot dictator” and mounting a “coup” following reports he plans to shut down parliament from September 11 ahead of a Queen’s Speech on October 14.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was “an outrage and a threat to our democracy … I am appalled at the recklessness of Johnson’s government, which talks about sovereignty and yet is seeking to suspend parliament to avoid scrutiny of its plans for a reckless no-deal Brexit.”

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson warned Mr Johnson was embarking on a “dangerous and unacceptable course of action”, while Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “Make no mistake, this is a very British coup

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Unless MPs come together to stop him next week, today will go down in history as a dark one indeed for UK democracy.”

Senior Conservative MP and former chancellor Philip Hammond called it a “constitutional outrage”, while former Tory minister Justine Greening, condemned the move as a “grubby attempt” to force through a no-deal.

Mr Johnson revealed he had spoken to the Queen to request an end to the current session, but denied it was anything to do with Brexit, insisting it was time for a new session of parliament so a new government could set out his “exciting agenda”.

Speaker John Bercow responded: “However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.

“At this time, one of the most challenging periods in our nation's history, it is vital that our elected Parliament has its say.”

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson said: “We do not have a “new government.” This action is an utterly scandalous affront to our democracy. We cannot let this happen.”

Independent Group for Change MP Anna Soubry added. “Outrageous that Parliament will be shut down at a moment of crisis as we face crashing out of the EU with no deal & for which there is no mandate.”

The Lib Dem MP Ed Davey said it was “outrageous” of the prime minister to involve the Queen in the political crisis. “It would be a coup d’etat - and it is outrageous that Johnson has put the Queen in this position,” he said.

Labour MP Margaret Beckett added: “Boris Johnson and his government are trashing the constitution,” she said. “While parliament is not even sitting, he is disgracefully dragging the Queen into the heart of the most difficult and dangerous exploitation of the usual powers of government.”

Lib Dem MP Chuka Umunna said: “The Prime Minister is behaving like a tin-pot dictator, pure and simple, and the People’s Parliament will not stand for it.”

Labour MP Yvette Cooper said: “Boris Johnson is trying to use the Queen to concentrate power in his own hands - this is a deeply dangerous and irresponsible way to govern.”

Jonathan Bartley, Green Party co-leader, said: “This is an outrage, a cynical attempt to subvert the will of parliament. It is important that everyone doesn’t despair, but gets active instead.”

The first minister of Wales, Labour’s Mark Drakeford, said: “Boris Johnson fought a referendum campaign to put power back in the hands of parliament and now he wants the Queen to close the doors on our democracy.”

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts MP, said: “This is a cynical and fundamentally anti-democratic move by a man who sees no hypocrisy in shutting down parliament after arguing that leaving the European Union would somehow reinforce the sovereignty of parliament.

“It is a move that you would expect from an autocratic ruler than the Prime Minister of a modern democracy.”

European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt has said the government plans to suspend parliament are “unlikely to help deliver a stable future EU - UK relationship”.

“’Taking back control’ has never looked so sinister,” he tweeted. “As a fellow parliamentarian, my solidarity with those fighting for their voices to be heard.”

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