Mon, 15 April 2024

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Parliament to shut for at least four weeks amid coronavirus crisis

Boris Johnson takes questions at a sparsely-attended Prime Minister's Questions.

2 min read

Parliament will close for at least four weeks from tonight as part of efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

An emergency motion will be tabled by Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg on Wednesday bringing forward the Easter recess by a week.

MPs and peers are still due to return to Parliament on 21 April, but that has been cast into doubt by the speed of the global crisis.

The move - first reported by the The Times Red Box - follows calls for MPs to stay away from Westminster following a UK-wide lockdown aimed at containing the spread of the virus. 

A Labour source told PoliticsHome: "The Government and opposition have co-operated to allow us to get to the position that the necessary emergency legislation has passed and we can rise a few days early given the unprecedented situation that faces the country. 

"The Labour Party will continue to provide constructive scrutiny of the Government, which is vital at a time of national emergency."

The Commons had originally been due to sit until next Tuesday.

But the latest move will mean MPs who are still attending Parliament will return to their constituencies tonight once the Coronavirus Bill handing the Government a wave of emergency powers has been passed.

According to The Times, Downing Street has signalled that it will reconvene the Commons if further emergency laws are required.

The move comes after increasing restrictions on normal life in Parliament, with all tours cancelled, visitors banned from the public galleries, and MPs and their staff told to work from home where possible.

The early recess also means today's Prime Minister's Questions is likely to be Jeremy Corbyn's last outing at the despatch box, with the party's new leader set to be in place by 4 April.

Last week's PMQs was sparsely attended, with MPs ordered by party whips to only take part if they had a question already down on the Commons order paper.

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