Earlier this morning, the UK government suspended Parliament, following a request by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The move is seen as an attempt from Johnson to push for a no-deal Brexit and even trigger a constitutional crisis.
Alexandra Cirone, professor in Cornell University’s department of government and an expert in European politics, says that today’s developments leave the opposition scrambling for ways to challenge the move on legal grounds.
“While it sounds drastic, Parliament is typically suspended when a new government takes over, and the current parliamentary session has been extraordinarily long.
“Still, the timing of this move is extremely controversial — this effectively curtails the role of the elected Parliament, leading up to the most turbulent political decision the UK has faced in decades. Suspending parliament will prevent MPs from debating and passing legislation to change the course of Brexit, and MPs would not be able to hold a vote of no confidence in the government.
“Though the prorogation of parliament is legal, in this case, it’s being seen as a political maneuver to force through a No Deal or perhaps a (yet to be determined) deal negotiated by the prime minister. The suspension of parliament in these exceptional circumstances is perhaps an abuse of parliamentary procedure, and clearly undermines democratic accountability.
“Leaders of the opposition and sitting MPs are now scrambling to challenge the move on legal grounds. In the days to come, it would be still possible to introduce a vote of no confidence in the government, ratify the original withdrawal agreement, or try to revoke Article 50.
“But whatever opponents of Boris Johnson and Brexit do, any moves they make will happen in a high-stakes, restricted timeline.”