Michael Staines
Michael Staines

10.15 10 Sep 2019


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There were unprecedented scenes in the House of Commons last night as Parliament was suspended for the next five weeks - with Brexit right around the corner.

MPs showed their fury by holding up signs reading ‘silenced’ and attempting to prevent the House Speaker John Bercow from leaving his chair.

The prorogation ceremony included an address from the Lady Usher of the Black Rod on the House floor – with Mr Bercow then expected to follow her to the House of Lords to complete the procedure.

John Bercow House of Commons speaker John Bercow. Image: House of Commons

Black Rod’s address was greeted with shouts of ‘No’ from the opposition benches before Mr Bercow, who is neutral but has often been outspoken during his tenure, voiced his own anger at the move.

“This is not a standard or normal prorogation,” he said.

“It's one of the longest for decades and it represents an act of executive fiat.”

A scuffle then erupted around his chair as opposition MPs attempted to prevent him from leaving.

Before finally agreeing to head to the House of Lord’s, he labelled Tory MP Graham Stuart a “master of disorder.”

He said he completely understood why some members of the opposition were boycotting the House of Lords ceremony adding: "Mr Stuart, if you don’t like it, you are perfectly entitled to your view.”

“I couldn’t give a flying flamingo what your view is.”

A group of Labour MPs then stayed in the chamber to sing the Red Flag as members of the SNP sang Flower of Scotland.

Just before Parliament prorogued, MPs rejected UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s second attempt to trigger an early general election in the UK.

Opposition parties said they would not agree to an election while the threat of a no-deal Brexit remained.

It is the sixth defeat Mr Johnson has suffered in the House since coming to office.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier told MPs his party is "eager" for an election but is “not prepared to inflict the disaster of a no-deal on our communities, our jobs, our services, or indeed our rights.”

Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, told MPs her party would campaign to revoke Article 50 - and cancel Brexit - in a general election.

She accused the prime minister treating Brexit like "a game" with his call for an election, adding: “This is not a student debating society, this is about the national interest - about being sure we avoid the risk of avoiding a no-deal Brexit.”

UK Parliament prorogued The empty chair of the House of Commons speaker after the UK Parliament prorogued

MPs also voted in favour a motion aimed at forcing the government to release documents related to its Operation Yellowhammer preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

The motion also seeks to compel the release of private messages - including those on WhatsApp and Facebook - between key government aides over the suspension of parliament.

The order is not legally binding – but the government could be found in contempt of parliament if it refuses to comply.

Mr Johnson began the day by meeting with the Taoiseach in Dublin.

After the talks, he said a no-deal Brexit would be a “failure of statecraft.”

He said the UK "must come out" of the EU by October 31st or "permanent damage would be done in the UK to trust in our democratic system."

Leo Varadkar told him that the EU is ready to listen to any “constructive ways in which we can achieve our agreed goals and resolve the current impasse.”

“But what we cannot do and will not do,” he said. “Is agree to the replacement of a legal guarantee with a promise.”

Mr Johnson has said he will now attempt to reach a new deal with the EU – and is continuing to insist he will take the UK out on October 31st with or without a deal.

Additional reporting from IRN ...


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