Boris Johnson refuses to say if he would suspend Parliament to deliver Brexit on 31 October

Posted On: 
17th July 2019

Boris Johnson has refused to confirm if he would suspend Parliament as Prime Minister in order to force Brexit through on 31 October.

Boris Johnson during a Tory leadership hustings in London
Credit: 
PA Images

It follows reports that the Tory leadership frontrunner is planning to schedule a Queen’s Speech at the start of November.

If he went ahead with the plan, it would guarantee that MPs would be unable to vote against a no-deal Brexit on the Hallowe'en deadline.

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When asked about the proposal, which was reported on Tuesday, Mr Johnson told a Conservative hustings that he was “not going to comment on our programme”.

The ex-foreign secretary said his administration would have a great programme for governing, but would not be drawn on when he would formally outline it.

A Queen’s Speech is the mechanism by which the executive lays out its legislative plans for the coming year.

But as it marks the start of a new Parliamentary session, convention is that the House of Commons is suspended in the two weeks prior to it.

If the future Prime Minister were to time their first Queen’s Speech at the start of November, the Palace of Westminster could be shuttered as the deadline to extend the Article 50 process to quit the EU passes.

This would prevent MPs from using any Parliamentary mechanism to prevent the UK from exiting the EU without a deal.

The controversial idea has angered many MPs, who have called on Mr Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, his rival in the race to replace Theresa May, to rule out the prospect without the approval of the Commons.

Mr Johnson's campaign told Sky News it was one of the options his team was looking at to make sure he fulfilled his pledge to complete Brexit on time.

When asked about it on stage at the Excel centre in east London, Mr Johnson responded by saying that he has “a great programme, there are all sorts of things we want to get done”, but added his “priority” was exiting the EU.

When pressed on the issue of proroguing Parliament by interviewer Iain Dale, he replied: "Iain I think you are a brilliant political journalist, and I congratulate you on your acumen on this point, and I'm not going to descend from you."

He said that the Conservative Party was now ready to commit to Brexit by 31 October, because "we are staring down the barrel."

Speaking afterwards, Mr Hunt avoided a direct answer to when he would schedule a Queen's Speech, but said he had repeatedly confirmed he “won’t prorogue Parliament to force through Brexit”.

When pushed on the timing of his policy programme, he responded: “Much as I love you Iain… there are some things we don’t need to talk about in the public arena.”

The Foreign Secretary added that he would announce an emergency Budget in the first week of September.