Opponents see the move as an extraordinary attempt to make it harder for lawmakers to thwart the prime minister’s Brexit plans before Oct. 31, the date the U.K. is scheduled to leave the European Union.
The prime minister confirmed in a letter that he had asked the queen to close Parliament from early September until mid-October. He said the current parliamentary session had gone on too long, and claimed the move was the best way to pursue his “bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda.”
The queen approved the prime minister’s request during a meeting Wednesday at Balmoral Castle, the royal family’s residence in Scotland. This was confirmed in a statement from the Privy Council, a group of royal advisers that includes government ministers.
“It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis. Profoundly undemocratic,” tweeted Philip Hammond, the United Kingdom’s former finance minister and a senior member of Johnson’s own Conservative Party.
The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, who was elected as a Conservative before taking up the impartial role, said such a move would be a “constitutional outrage.”
Because the U.K. does not have a written constitution, some experts had asked if the queen could refuse the prime minister’s request.
On the opposition benches, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a statement that he was “appalled at the recklessness” of the move. “This is an outrage and a threat to our democracy,” he added.