Speed Reads

Power Play

Britain's Boris Johnson asks queen to suspend Parliament amid efforts to stop no-deal Brexit

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday to suspend Parliament until mid-October, leaving lawmakers little time to try to block Britain from crashing out of the European Union on Oct. 31 without a divorce settlement. Johnson asked the queen to end the current session of Parliament in preparation for a Queen's Speech, typically a formality to lay out a government's legislative agenda. BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said it would be "impossible" for the queen to refuse the request, and unlike dissolving Parliament to hold new elections, members of Parliament don't get a vote on prorogation.

Parliament was scheduled to return from summer recess next week, and opposition lawmakers have reportedly been working on a plan to prevent a no-deal Brexit, a move Johnson seems increasingly likely to pursue. Johnson said he will give the Queen's Speech on Oct. 14, and in the meantime, lawmakers won't be able to bring forward or debate new legislation. Johnson said there will be "ample time" to MPs to debate Brexit after his speech, adding: "As always my door is open to all colleagues should you wish to discuss this or any other matter."

The reaction to Johnson's move was mostly negative. Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson called it an "utterly scandalous affront to our democracy," Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson called it a "dangerous and unacceptable course of action" and "an act of cowardice from Boris Johnson," and Tory MP Dominic Grieve, a former attorney general, called it "an outrageous act" that will bring down Johnson's government. "If the prime minister persists with this and doesn't back off, then I think the chances are that his administration will collapse," Grieve added. "I will certainly vote to bring down a Conservative government that persists in a course of action which is so unconstitutional."

Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly shrugged, saying prorogation is what "all new governments do."