London the two-page letter to the Deputy MinisterIt starts harmless enough. "I hope you had a pleasant summer vacation," writes Boris Johnson. Then the British Prime Minister goes to work. He had asked Queen Elizabeth II in the morning to finish this session of Parliament in the second week of September, he writes.
Parliament will not return until October 14, when its government will introduce its new agenda. Johnson's surprise announcement Wednesday sparked a protest storm in the London government district.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow spoke of a "constitutional scandal". It was "perfectly clear" that the government wants to prevent the Parliament from debating Brexit, said the Speaker of Parliament. Former Finance Minister Philip Hammond tweeted that the decision was "deeply undemocratic".
Others have chosen even sharper words. "Johnson's declaration of war will get an iron fist," tweeted Liberal Democrat Tom Brake. Labor MP Ben Bradshaw even spoke of a "coup d'etat against our parliamentary democracy".
Labor colleague Mary Creagh called Johnson a "pocket dictator". And the head of the Scottish regional government, Nicola Sturgeon, outraged: "If delegates do not meet next week to stop, this day will remain in the history of British democracy as a dark day."
In fact, from the point of view of the proud British parliamentarians, it must appear to be an unbearable provocation to send the House of Commons into forced leave in the decisive weeks preceding Brexit on October 31st. "What does Johnson worry about having to suspend Parliament?" Asked Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labor opposition.
Dozens of opposition MPs have asked the Queen to reject the Prime Minister's request. Corbyn even summoned a meeting with the queen – a most unusual event. But the protests did not help, the queen acquiesced to Johnson's request the same day. Basically, it does not interfere in political matters.
The initiative of the head of government touches the parliamentary self-understanding of the country. Although the lower house does not meet anyway between mid-September and 7 October, the feast days taking place today, the government extends the break only a few days. But this gives the opposition less time to pass a law against Brexit. Only Tuesday, six opposition parties led by Corbyn had agreed on a common approach. They want to force Johnson to request a postponement of Brexit in Brussels.
Johnson, however, wants to avoid another delay at all costs. He repeatedly stated that he would leave the EU in any circumstances on October 31, if necessary without going through an agreement. Johnson uses the non-transaction threat as a lever to gain new concessions from Europeans.
Border controls in Ireland
He calls on the EU-27 to remove the safety net of the exit agreement brokered by his predecessor, Theresa May. The backstop provides that Britain will remain in the European Customs Union until the British and Europeans have agreed on a new free trade agreement. So, no border control in Ireland is necessary. From Johnson's point of view, the backstop is "undemocratic" because the kingdom can not cancel it unilaterally.
After his trip to Europe last week, Johnson had the impression that Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were ready to make changes to security. In newspapers loyal to Johnson, such as the Daily Telegraph, the so-called European movement was seen as proof that the threat of non-agreement was taking effect.
Johnson denied Wednesday that he wanted to slow down Brexit opponents in Parliament. They finally had time after October 14th. Instead, he wanted to announce new legislation in areas other than Brexit.
The hard-pressed Brexit in Parliament have supported it. "This Parliament has only been debating Brexit for two years," said Conservative MP John Redwood. "Everyone is already bored."
"Speech of the queen"
Downing Street argued that it was customary for a new government to submit its program and that by that time, the parliament had been suspended for several weeks. The process calls for prorogation and usually takes place once a year. When a government has completed its program, the session is over. The next begins with a "Queen's Speech" in which the government announces new legislative initiatives.
The current session lasts more than two years because May had no other program than Brexit and this one is not over yet. In this regard, a new "Queen's Speech" was long overdue.
But the calendar in the crucial weeks before October 31 is a provocation. The suspension was not unconstitutional, but the five-week span is extraordinary, said Ruth Fox of the Hansard Society, an independent parliamentary organization, The Guardian. The government clearly aims to escape the control of parliament.
The extension of the waiting period puts the Brexit opponents under additional time pressure. The opposition agreed Tuesday to legally exclude a Brexit without compromise. At first, they wanted to refrain from voting for a vote of no confidence against the government because they could not agree on a replacement prime minister. Union leader Corbyn was offered but had been rejected by many MPs. For the majority, some dissidents would be required by the Conservative government.
A vote of confidence becomes more likely
Johnson's provocation makes a censorship vote more likely next week. "I think we will have a vote of no confidence very quickly," said Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, one of the most critical critics of conservatives in Johnson.
But the Prime Minister insists that pro-European MPs in Parliament will not find common ground in the next two weeks. His roadmap for the second half of October would look like this: at the next European summit of 17 and 18 October, he wants to put the Europeans ahead of the elections: either they agree on a new exit agreement without support, or it is a Brexit disorder on October 31st.
If the Europeans were to participate in a new Brexit agreement, it would probably be voted on in the Lower House on 21 and 22 October. Members would also be faced with the choice of either this exit agreement or a disorderly Brexit.
The opposition will continue to try to eliminate Brexit in the mess. But the compulsory division of parliament reduces its chances of success. As usual, the pound sterling reacted when Brexit, a controversial deal, threatened it: it depreciated against the dollar and the euro.
more: The British Prime Minister continues to work on his plans for Brexit. To rule out another change, he examines unusual methods.