Boris Johnson is proroguing parliament – what does that mean?

Wednesday 28th August 2019 | Jake

Wednesday was an explosive day in British politics, even by the chaotic standards of our times. Boris Johnson, who has held the post of prime minister for a little over a month, announced plans to prorogue parliament in the morning, to do so he needed the Queen’s consent. By the afternoon she had agreed, and now parliament is set to be suspended for five weeks, beginning in mid-September. Many will be wondering why? So here goes.

Firstly a simple definition of what prorogation is. Proroguing parliament means suspending the current session, stopping all activity. Prorogation is often for a short period, and parliament is not dissolved, meaning Johnson and his government remain in power throughout. The end of prorogation is marked by a new Queen’s speech. Parliament being suspended in this way is common, and does usually take place in autumn. However, they typically last a week, and the timing of Johnson’s strike is telling, and deeply troubling.

Johnson insists proroguing parliament will still give MPs “ample time” to discuss Brexit, but it’s clear he is using it to stifle protest towards his no-deal Brexit plans (or lack thereof). MPs will lose two weeks which they could be using to pass legislation and craft plans opposing no-deal. Three of the five weeks will be used for party conferences.

Johnson himself insists he hasn’t prorogued parliament to stifle opposition to no-deal, despite a legion of MPs saying otherwise. The plan to suspend parliament has infuriated many MPs, not only those who voted remain, with Johnson’s move seen as a coup in some quarters.

The astonishing news has already led to people taking to the streets in protests, with more being organised. Hundreds of thousands, meanwhile, have signed a petition to stop Johnson being granted the prorogation. Britain can expect a few more bumps on this tumultuous journey to come. There is strong belief a General Election will be called before the 31st of October (the day Britain is set to leave the EU), while Jeremy Corbyn will be expected to table a vote of no confidence in Johnson, which could see the government topple.