Brexit: Suspension of parliament descends into chaos

Boris Johnson fails to secure general election before triggering prorogation

The suspension of British parliament descended into chaos as Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle tried to block speaker John Bercow from leaving his chair to proceed with a ceremony that led to prorogation.

 

Opposition MPs in the United Kingdom staged a protest in the House of Commons as the ceremony to trigger the five-week suspension of Parliament descended into chaos.

Signs with “silenced” written on them were held by some Labour MPs. One MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, appeared to try to hold on to speaker John Bercow at the point he was requested to lead MPs to the Lords, with doorkeepers intervening.

Shouts of “shame on you” could be heard as government MPs left the Commons to head to the House of Lords for the prorogation ceremony.

Before walking to the Lords, Mr Bercow said of the protest: “I recognise that our presence is desired by our majesty the queen’s commissioners. They are doing what they believe to be right and I recognise my role in this matter.”

Mr Bercow added: “I’m perfectly happy to play my part, but I do want to make the point that this is not a standard or normal prorogation.”

The speaker continued: “It’s one of the longest for decades and it represents an act of executive fiat.”

Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson shouted at the speaker and left the chamber.

In response, Mr Bercow said: “I don’t care if you don’t like it. I require no response from you young man. I require no response from you. Get out man, you will not be missed.”

One of the “silenced” signs was left in Mr Bercow’s chair after he had departed.

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Earlier, Mr Bercow announced that he would stand down at the next election or on October 31st, whichever comes first.

The unusually long period between the ceremony of prorogation and the queen’s speech on October 14th has provoked warnings about a lack of time to deal with Brexit matters ahead of the next deadline on October 31st.

Prime minister Boris Johnson had hoped to call a general election for mid-October but failed twice to secure enough support from MPs for his idea.

Instead, MPs approved legislation which is designed to stop the government from forcing through a no-deal Brexit at the end of next month — something they feared the lengthy prorogation could have aided.

Unlike during a normal recess, recalling MPs in the event of an emergency is very difficult and would require a royal warrant.

The prorogation ceremony began in a bad-tempered manner with some MPs shouting “no” when black rod Sarah Clarke, the senior House of Lords officer tasked with leading the ceremony, asked MPs to visit the Lords.

Meanwhile, the opposition benches in the Lords were empty as both Labour and Liberal Democrat peers boycotted the ceremony in protest at the suspension of Parliament.

With the ceremony ongoing in the Lords, a sing-off emerged in the Commons.

SNP MPs began singing Scots Wha Hae — considered by the party to be the alternative national anthem — on the Commons benches.

Labour MPs also sang the Red Flag and Jerusalem before SNP MP Gavin Newlands jokingly appealed to Conservative MPs to sing — with no response.

The SNP also sang Flower of Scotland while Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru offered Bread of Heaven.

Ode to Joy, recognised as an EU anthem, was also hummed by some MPs.

Mr Bercow was applauded by opposition MPs after he returned from the Lords. “I feel much more at home here,” said Mr Bercow.

One MP jokingly asked if he had been offered a peerage.

Mr Bercow replied: “Who said it has been offered?”

He then invited MPs to shake his hand once prorogation had been confirmed. – PA