Boris Johnson seeking legal advice for secret plan to shut down Parliament and force Brexit through

Posted On: 
25th August 2019

Boris Johnson has asked the Attorney General whether Parliament can be shut down for five weeks in an apparent bid to stop MPs delaying Brexit, it has been claimed.

Boris Johnson is reportedly seeking advice on 'proroguing' Parliament
Credit: 
PA Images

Leaked emails to The Observer show the Prime Minister had sought legal advice from Geoffrey Cox on whether the Commons could be “prorogued” in the five weeks from 9 September.

The correspondence, from one Government adviser to another, claims while such a move may be possible as it stands, it depends on whether campaigners who are opposed to a no-deal Brexit are able to prevent it in the courts.

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Pro-Remain MPs are said to have spent the summer plotting how to halt a no-deal exit, including by amending Brexit-related legislation that could force an extension.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is also expected to table a no-confidence vote which could topple Mr Johnson’s government and usher in a new administration.

But the document details how Mr Johnson’s team are weighing up a move that would see Parliament closed until the eve of the last EU summit before Brexit, on 17 and 18 October, when it could be too late for MPs to block no deal.

Speaking ahead of the crunch G7 summit in Biarritz this weekend, Mr Johnson, who has said he did not want to prorogue Parliament, but would not rule it out, urged MPs not to try and frustrate the Brexit process.

He said: “I think it’s parliament’s job now to respect not just the will of the people but to remember what the overwhelming majority of them promised to do over and over and over again, which is to get Brexit done, to respect the will of the people, and to come out of the EU on 31 October.

“That is what I am confident our parliament will do."

A government source told the paper there was “a definite and clear plan to prorogue parliament being hatched by Johnson’s closest advisers”.

And a further government source did not deny legal advice had been sought, adding: “As a matter of routine, No 10 officials ask for legal and policy advice every day.”

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said: “Any plan to suspend parliament at this stage would be outrageous. MPs must take the earliest opportunity to thwart this plan and to stop a no-deal Brexit.”

Tory remainer and former attorney general Dominic Grieve added: “This memo, if correct, shows Boris Johnson’s contempt for the House of Commons. It may be possible to circumvent the clear intention of the House of Commons in this way but it shows total bad faith.

"Excluding the house from a national crisis that threatens the future of our country is entirely wrong."