St Helens MP Conor McGinn accuses PM of sparking 'constitutional crisis'

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

Conor McGinn MP has accused Boris Johnson of sparking a “constitutional crisis” by involving the Queen in his Brexit battle with Parliament.

The Prime Minister confirmed on Wednesday he had asked the Queen to suspend Parliament.

This request has been approved by the Queen, who will set out a legislative programme for the new government via a Queen’s Speech on October 14.

Parliament will now be suspended, or prorogued, in the week beginning September 9 – just days after MPs return from their summer break.

Parliament will resume on October 14.

The move has sparked condemnation across the political spectrum and also saw a series of protests take place across the country yesterday.

Mr Johnson has denied he is trying to limit MPs’ ability to stop the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

But it is widely viewed that it is an attempt to limit the amount of time Remain MPs have to try to draft and pass legislation aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit.

Yesterday, St Helens South and Whiston MP Marie Rimmer said Boris Johnson’s plans to prorogue Parliament was an “outright attack on British democracy”.

Today, St Helens North MP Conor McGinn has launched his own scathing assessment.

Mr McGinn said: “The government is closing down Parliament before a Queen’s Speech for the longest period in over 40 years.

“Our democratic institutions are being deliberately shut down at a time when the country is facing enormous challenges.

“All because the Prime Minister has effectively lost his majority in the House of Commons. He has also provoked a constitutional crisis by drawing the Queen into this debacle.

“Whatever the arguments about what people did or didn’t vote for in 2016, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t to allow this abysmal state of affairs.”

Parliament is normally suspended for a short period every year before a new session begins.

Usually this happens in the autumn, although this is not always the case, and is done by the Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The current parliamentary session began in June 2017 and is the longest in almost 400 years.

What is controversial about proroguing Parliament now is the timing and the length of time it will be suspended.

The UK is due to leave the EU on October 31 and is currently headed towards leaving without divorce agreement in place.

No debates or votes are held during this time, which means MPs who have come together to try to pass legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit have considerably less time to do so.

It also unprecedented in recent times for prorogation to last more than a month.

The move has been condemned by members of the Conservative Party, including House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, who called the plans a “constitutional outrage”.

This is not a view shared by St Helens Conservative group leader, Allan Jones, who believes the Prime Minister is simply doing what is necessary to deliver Brexit.

Coun Jones said: “When Parliament has tried to scupper the democratic vote of the people, proroguing Parliament is a way to uphold that democratic vote.

“What is an affront to democracy is when St Helens MPs ignore the democratic vote of the constituencies they represent and call for another referendum.

“What Boris is doing is upholding the views of the people of St Helens and taking us out of Europe. Hopefully with a good deal but if not then with no deal, no ifs or buts.

“It is the Remainers like our MPs that will cause Parliament to be prorogued, not the Leavers.

“If that constitutes a constitutional crisis then that is the result of these members of Parliament who do not listen to the democratic vote of the people they represent.”

The St Helens Tory leader believes the Prime Minister should be prepared to walk away from the EU without a deal.

But Mr McGinn, who has previously called for a second referendum on leaving the EU, said this would have a “hugely detrimental impact” on St Helens.

Mr McGinn said: “It’s clear that far from wanting to avoid a no-deal Brexit, Boris Johnson is now actively working towards one.

“This flies in the face of what he and the Leave campaign said through the referendum campaign and would have a hugely detrimental impact here in St Helens and on people, businesses and communities across the country.

“Already, St Helens Council is making contingency plans to ensure sick and elderly people can access medicines and kids can get school meals.

“But regardless of anyone’s views on Brexit, there is a much deeper issue now.”