Opposition lawmakers slam decision, claiming it will severely reduce time available to discuss Brexit set for Oct. 31
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that the suspension of parliament would be extended until Oct. 14—just two weeks before the U.K. is set to leave the E.U.—enraging anti-Brexit lawmakers.
M.P.s will return to London later than in recent years, giving pro-E.U. lawmakers less time than expected to thwart Johnson’s Brexit plans before Britain is due to leave the European Union on Oct. 31.
“We’re going to do it on Oct. 14,” Johnson told reporters. He is due to attend one last European Union summit three days later. “There will be ample time on both sides of that crucial Oct. 17 summit, ample time in parliament for M.P.s to debate,” Johnson said.
The pound slumped almost one percent versus the dollar and euro on the news. Britain’s currency slid 0.94 percent to $1.2179, while the euro bought 91.09 pence.
A source in Johnson’s Downing Street office insisted that only around four sitting days in the lower House of Commons would be lost as a result.
Parliament returns from its summer break on Sept. 3. By convention it is suspended for the annual conferences of the three main parties.
The first, that of the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, starts on Sept. 14. The final one, that of Johnson’s governing Conservatives, ends on Oct. 2. Johnson wants parliament to return 12 days later on Oct. 14.
Last year’s party conference recess was from Sept. 13 to Oct. 9, six days after the end of the party conferences. The 2017 break was from Sept. 14 to Oct. 9, five days after the last conference concluded.
The move enraged opposition M.P.s involved in trying to stop Brexit. Tom Watson, deputy leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said: “This action is an utterly scandalous affront to our democracy. We cannot let this happen.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake tweeted: “The mother of all parliaments will not allow him to shut the people’s parliament out of the biggest decision facing our country. His declaration of war will be met with an iron fist.”
Green M.P. Caroline Lucas called it a “constitutional outrage.”
Sarah Wollaston said Johnson was “behaving like a tin pot dictator,” while fellow former Conservative M.P. Anna Soubry said British democracy was “under threat from a ruthless P.M.”
Johnson insists Britain must leave the E.U. on the Oct. 31 deadline—already twice-delayed—with or without a divorce deal from Brussels. Six opposition parties on Tuesday pledged to seek legislative changes to prevent a no-deal Brexit.