British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday (08/27) asked Queen Elizabeth II to suspend — otherwise known as “prorogue” — Parliament until October 14 - Photo: AP

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The countdown to no-deal Brexit is on after Queen Elizabeth II approved British’ Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend the parliament, as reported by BBC. Now Parliament will be suspended for five weeks, from Sept 9 or 12 until Oct. 14.

Here’s what this means in practice Member of Parliaments (MPs) will now have a very narrow window to debate, scrutinize, and pass the deal if there is one on offer or stop the United Kingdom (UK) from exiting the European Union (EU) without an agreement in place on Oct. 31.

Immediately, Johnson moved to suspend parliament sparking criticism that he is seeking to prevent lawmakers from debating a deal to leave the European Union. Opposition leaders believe the move is an attempt to stop them from blocking a no-deal Brexit, prompting critics to accuse him of acting like a “tin-pot dictator”.

While, in a day of high drama, protesters descended on Westminster demanding the premier “stops the coup”, with hundreds over a million people signing a petition against prorogation within hours.

Leaving the EU without a deal is something Johnson has said his willing and ready to do, but MPs largely oppose that route because of the potential economic fallout.

Johnson has denied that putting Parliament on a five-week break as the UK is in the middle of a national crisis over Brexit has anything to do with the national crisis. In a letter to lawmakers, the prime minister said this legislative session had to end, as it’s one of the longest in history.

“I, therefore, intend to bring forward a new bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit,” Johnson wrote. “There will be a significant Brexit legislative program to get through but that should be no excuse for a lack of ambition!”

Not many MPs are buying Johnson’ excuse. Some are accusing him of flinging the UK into a constitutional crisis. Speaker of the House John Bercow called it “a constitutional outrage.”

“However it is dressed up it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty,” he added.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described Johnson’ move as an outrage and a threat to our democracy. “Labour will work across Parliament to hold the government to account and prevent a disastrous No Deal,” Corbyn tweeted Wednesday.

Proroguing Parliament is a totally normal thing that happens, but in recent decades, it has usually lasted just a week or two. It was supposed to meet for the first two weeks of the month and then take a recess for party conferences until October 9.

MPs could have always canceled their party conferences, and there was some speculation they might be headed down that route. Johnson’ maneuver means MPs now have no say.

The premier has set up a showdown with MPs, which will force those in his Conservative Party to consider whether they’ll risk a no-deal Brexit or break with him and his party. Johnson has a majority of one in the House of Commons, and Wednesday’s decision might make that minuscule lead even more precarious.

Back in the Theresa May days, Parliament thrice rejected the Brexit divorce agreement, couldn’t agree on an alternative plan and rejected a no-deal exit. It also asked May to negotiate for an extension to Brexit.

In his campaign for prime minister, Johnson had promised to renegotiate May’ Brexit deal with the EU. The Organanization repeatedly said it wasn’t going to reopen talks on the divorce deal, and that even if it did, it would not accept Johnson’s terms to get rid of the Irish backstop, a plan to avoid border checks on the boundary between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and Ireland (which will remain part of the EU).

Johnson tried it anyway, the EU said no. The impasse continues. There’s no new agreement to be had. So the prospect of a no-deal Brexit on October 31 seems a lot more possible.

The suspension of Parliament is going to make no-deal legislation a lot harder to accomplish, especially since the body remains a fractious bunch. Those who support leaving without a deal, leaving with a deal, or remaining in the EU don’t split neatly along partisan lines. Even though a majority of MPs might oppose a no-deal Brexit, they’ll have to cross party lines or join up with opponents to do so.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com