MPs will return to London on October 14, later than in recent years, giving pro-EU lawmakers less time than expected to thwart Boris Johnson's Brexit plans before Britain is due to leave the European Union on October 31.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II approved the Johnson government's request to suspend UK Parliament amid a continuing Brexit crisis
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that the suspension of parliament would be extended until October 14, just two weeks before the UK is set to leave the EU, enraging anti-Brexit MPs.
Parliament Speaker John Bercow called the government action to suspend Parliament a "constitutional outrage".
The move will squeeze lawmakers who want to bring forward new legislation to block a no-deal Brexit ahead of the October 31 departure.
Johnson is due to attend one last EU summit three days later.
"There will be ample time on both sides of that crucial October 17 summit, ample time in parliament for MPs to debate," Johnson said.
In a letter released on Wednesday, the prime minister asked Queen Elizabeth II to give her speech outlining the government's agenda on October 14.
Parliament is normally suspended before a so-called "Queen's Speech", usually by about a week.
Johnson insists Britain must leave the EU on the October 31 deadline, already twice-delayed, with or without a divorce deal from Brussels.
Would be very hard for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, to seek a no-confidence vote against New Prime Minister Boris Johnson, especially in light of the fact that Boris is exactly what the U.K. has been looking for, & will prove to be “a great one!” Love U.K.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2019
Why is Johnson's move important?
It could make a no-deal Brexit more likely.
The suspension would add to an already planned suspension — from mid-September for about three weeks — that is meant to allow the main political parties to hold their annual conferences.
That means that when lawmakers come back from summer break to work on September 3, they would have only a few days of work before they break up again until mid-October.
That would leave them very little time to debate and pass legislation to keep Britain from leaving the EU without a deal on October 31.
Johnson has said he will bring Britain out of the EU on that date no matter what.
That could create huge disruption, particularly to business and trade, as border checks and tariffs are restored between Britain and the EU.
A source in Johnson's Downing Street office insisted that only around four sitting days in the lower House of Commons would be lost as a result.
The first annual conference, that of the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, starts on September 14. The final one, that of Johnson's governing Conservatives, ends on October 2.
Johnson wants parliament to return 12 days later on October 14.
Last year's party conference recess was from September 13 to October 9, six days after the end of the party conferences.
The 2017 break was from September 14 to October 9, five days after the last conference concluded.
If BBC News are correct @BorisJohnson's just thrown down the gauntlet to Parliamentary democracy.— Tom Brake MP 🔶 (@thomasbrake) August 28, 2019
The mother of all Parliaments will not allow him to shut the #PeoplesParliament out of the biggest decision facing our country.
His declaration of war will be met with an iron fist
Can lawmakers prevent Parliament's suspension?
It's unclear, but they will try. Johnson's decision enraged opposition MPs involved in trying to stop Brexit.
The lawmakers could call for a no-confidence vote in the government, which if passed would normally cause it to collapse.
But Johnson is likely to simply ignore that call, Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham, said.
The lawmakers are likely to try to keep parliament open by passing emergency legislation when they reconvene on September 3.
And there will be battles in court starting immediately, Lucas said. But it's unclear whether they will have enough time.
"This is the biggest constitutional crisis since the 1930s," when King Edward VIII abdicated, Lucas says.
The outlook is murky because, unlike many modern democracies, Britain does not have a written constitution and relies heavily on convention to guide it.
Tom Watson, deputy leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said: "This action is an utterly scandalous affront to our democracy. We cannot let this happen."
The Green MP Caroline Lucas called it a "constitutional outrage".
Sarah Wollaston said Johnson was "behaving like a tin pot dictator", while fellow former Conservative MP Anna Soubry said British democracy was "under threat from a ruthless PM".
Six opposition parties on Tuesday pledged to seek legislative changes to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
How likely is a no-deal Brexit now?
The likelihood has risen since Johnson became prime minister in July, and the suspension of parliament seems to increase that possibility.
The pound, which is one of the best indicators of international investors' confidence in the country, fell on Wednesday's news.
It is around $1.2211, from $1.2290 the day before and not far from the 28-month lows of below $1.2100 it hit earlier this month.
Brexit supporters say that if Johnson makes the threat of a no-deal Brexit credible, he is more likely to be able to get the EU to renegotiate the divorce deal before October 31. But some experts note that the EU is already taking that threat seriously and that the UK has more to lose economically than the rest of the EU.