Aug. 28 (UPI) — British Queen Elizabeth II agreed Wednesday to shut down Parliament for five weeks at Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s request, drawing backlash from lawmakers working to strike a deal with the European Union before Britain leaves in two months.
Johnson asked the queen to temporarily suspend Parliament from early September to Oct. 14, saying the move will allow him to better pursue his domestic policies. Opponents say he’s trying to ward off interference from lawmakers hoping to block an exit without an EU agreement.
Johnson has previously vowed Britain will have departed the 28-nation alliance by Nov. 1, with or without an EU agreement. He also said a reason for the move is because the present session has gone on for too long.
Johnson denied the move had anything to do with Britain’s EU exit, and said there will be “ample time” for lawmakers to debate before a key summit of EU leaders in Belgium Oct. 17.
Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the queen Wednesday expressing concerns about Johnson’s plan and requesting a meeting with her. When Parliament reconvenes Thursday, Corbyn said “the first thing we’ll do is attempt legislation to prevent what [Johnson] is doing.”
“Suspending Parliament is not acceptable,” Corbyn said. “What the prime minister is doing is a smash and grab on our democracy to force through a no deal.”
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow called it a “constitutional outrage.”
“However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of [suspending Parliament] now would be to stop [lawmakers] debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.”
Democrat leader Jo Swinson also requested a meeting with the queen, saying the move is “anti-democratic.”
“This is a crucial time in our country’s history, and yet our prime minister is arrogantly attempting to force through a no-deal Brexit against the democratic will,” she said. “He is outrageously stifling the voices of both the people and their representatives.”
Labor lawmaker Ben Bradshaw called Johnson’s move Wednesday a “coup” attempt that could “drag the monarch into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.” Scottish Parliament leader Nicola Sturgeon said Wednesday will go down in history as a “dark” day for British democracy.
Corbyn reiterated Wednesday he will seek a vote of no confidence for Johnson.
The BBC reported that hundreds of people gathered outside Westminster to protest Brexit and Johnson’s move. The demonstrators marched from Parliament to Downing Street, where the prime minister’s office and residence is located.
The demonstrators said more protests were scheduled for the weekend.