The Latest: UK leader accused of ‘trashing the constitution’

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Brexit (all times local):

11:45 a.m.

Anti-Brexit campaigners who want a second referendum have accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “trashing the constitution” after the government moved to suspend Parliament.

Johnson will temporarily shut down Parliament in mid-October, squeezing the time for the opposition to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

Lawmaker Margaret Beckett, a leading supporter of the “people’s vote” campaign, said that “Boris Johnson and his government are trashing the constitution … 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.”

Independent legislator Nick Boles, who left the Conservative Party earlier this year, tweeted: “The government’s plan to prorogue Parliament until 14 Oct clarifies the choice for MPs who want to stop a No Deal Brexit. If they don’t support legislative steps next week, there will be no second chance. Hopefully this will stiffen backbones and concentrate minds.”

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11:30 a.m.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage says the British government’s move to suspend Parliament makes a no-confidence motion “now certain.”

Farage tweeted after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to ask Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament.

Farage said that “a general election is more likely and is seen as a positive move by Brexiteers.”

But he says the big question is whether Johnson intends to pursue the withdrawal agreement with the European Union.

Farage said “If he does, then The Brexit Party will fight him every inch of the way. But if he now wants a clean break Brexit then we would like to help him secure a large majority in a general election.”

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11:15 a.m.

U.K. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has responded with outrage to moves by the government to suspend Parliament, saying that it “represents a constitutional outrage.”

Bercow says he was not told in advance of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision. He says “it is blindingly obvious” that the purpose of the suspension “would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.”

Bercow says that Johnson should be seeking to establish his democratic credentials, rather than undermine them.

 He adds that “shutting down Parliament would be an offense against the democratic process and the rights of Parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives.”

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11 a.m.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has written to lawmakers explaining his decision to ask Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament.

In a letter released Wednesday, Johnson says that he “spoke to Her Majesty The Queen to request an end to the current parliamentary session.”

The move will squeeze lawmakers who want to bring forward new legislation to block a no-deal Brexit ahead of the Oct. 31 departure.

He says a central feature of the legislative program will be the introduction of a bill to leave the European Union and “to secure its passage before 31 October.”

Johnson concludes that: “As always my door is open to all colleagues should you wish to discuss this or any other matter.

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10:40 a.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will temporarily shut down Parliament in mid-October, squeezing the time for the opposition to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

In comments on Wednesday, Johnson confirmed earlier reports that he would hold the Queen’s Speech — normally a formality that outlines the legislative agenda — on Oct. 14. Since Parliament is normally suspended before the speech, the decision means opposition lawmakers would be unlikely to have enough time to pass laws blocking the U.K.’s exit from the European Union on Oct. 31 without a negotiated deal. 

Lawmakers are reacting with fury. 

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson says Johnson is embarking on a “dangerous and unacceptable course of action”.

She said: “Shutting down Parliament would be an act of cowardice from Boris Johnson.

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10:15 a.m.

The British currency has fallen sharply on reports that the government wants to suspend Parliament to quash lawmakers’ efforts to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

The pound fell to $1.2187 on Wednesday from about $1.2300 the day before, a sign that investors are more 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.

The BBC reported that Johnson will use the Queen’s Speech — normally a formality that outlines the legislative agenda — to suspend Parliament. The decision to hold the speech on Oct. 14 will be made later today.

The timing means that lawmakers would be unlikely to have enough time to pass laws blocking the U.K.’s exit from the European Union without a negotiated deal.

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10 a.m.

British opposition lawmakers are reacting with fury to reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will seek a suspension of Parliament to hamper efforts to quash a no-deal Brexit.

The BBC reported that Johnson will use the Queen’s Speech — normally a formality that outlines the legislative agenda — to suspend Parliament. The decision to hold the speech on Oct. 14 will be made later today.

The timing means that lawmakers would be unlikely to have enough time to pass laws blocking the U.K.’s exit from the European Union without a negotiated deal.

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “So it seems that Boris Johnson may actually be about to shut down Parliament to force through a no deal Brexit. Unless MPs come together to stop him next week, today will go down in history as a dark one indeed for UK democracy.”

Categories: International News