Pinnacle Professional’s Robert McConnell discusses the proroguing of Parliament
If you switched on the news on Wednesday evening, you would have been mistaken for thinking that the world of British politics had been turned upside down. Earlier that day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had announced his intentions to ask the Queen to prorogue parliament. The Queen then later confirmed that parliament would be prorogued, and the media became abuzz with the views of politicians, commentators and the public.
There was also a lot of people confused about what was actually going on, what proroguing actually meant and whether the sky was indeed about to fall down on top of us! If you are in this camp, do not worry, this blog will provide a quick and precise overview of what has happened, what it means for Brexit and what we can expect to see happen politically going forward.
What is Proroguing?
Proroguing is a technical term that means to suspend parliament. This decision is not one that MPs take but instead, it is for the Queen to do on the advice of the Prime Minister.
This usually happens when a parliamentary session is ended, although MPs retain their seats despite no votes or debates taking place. Proroguing is different from dissolving parliament or holding a recess. Dissolving involves MPs losing their seats ahead of a general election, and a recess is simply a break in the parliamentary session, such as the summer recess which is currently happening.
Once prorogued, parliament is then suspended for a time period determined by the Prime Minister before a ‘Queen’s Speech’ is held at a later day. This speech is historically used to announce the government’s new policies and legislative programmes for the next parliamentary session.
What will happen?
MPs are currently on their summer recess until 3rd September when they will return to begin an intensive spell of Brexit talks. This will only last a very short time however, as at some point between 9th and 12th September, parliament will be prorogued. MPs will then reconvene in mid-October, just over two weeks away from the Brexit deadline.
What Does It Mean for Brexit?
The decision to prorogue parliament inevitably increases the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit dramatically. There is still time to agree a deal, however that already limited time frame has suddenly become even more limited.
What Can MPs Do?
The decision to prorogue parliament means that when MPs return next Tuesday, they are almost certainly going to be forced into holding a no confidence vote against Boris Johnson. This is likely to happen due to the new time constraints proroguing parliament presents.
On 27th August, Jeremy Corbyn and other opposition MPs had agreed to try and pass legislation next week to try and bind the government into delaying a no-deal Brexit. Again, with the added time restrictions, it is more likely that this agreement will take a backseat to try and force through a no confidence vote.
If a no confidence vote occurred, the Prime Minister is still feeling confident of surviving of it. If he lost this confidence vote however, it would likely lead to a general election in November as the Prime Minister would then seek to secure a new Brexit mandate.
The Brexit Endgame Timeline
3rd September – MPs reconvene after their summer recess, now with an increased likelihood of a no-confidence vote occurring in the days following their return
9th- 12th September – Parliament will be prorogued (or suspended)
14th October – MPs return to parliament to hear the Queen’s Speech
17th – 18th October – EU leaders meet in Brussels, with the Prime Minister expected to declare whether the UK will leave without a deal or not
31st October – date of the Brexit deadline, if the UK does not have a Withdrawal Agreement in place with the EU by 11pm, then they will leave without a deal
7th November – the first Thursday in November, and a date being earmarked for a potential general election, should the UK have not left the EU a week prior to this
Robert McConnell, Pinnacle Professional