House of Commons By UK Parliament 2 (CC-BY-3.0)

House of Commons By UK Parliament 2 (CC-BY-3.0)

The subject of proroguing parliament in order to force a no deal Brexit has been talked about before and one Tory leadership candidate, Dominic Raab, has put it forward as a tactic he might use to stop MPs preventing a no deal Brexit. But would it work?


Some Tory leadership hopefuls are saying that they will remove the UK from the EU, even if it takes a no deal Brexit to do it.

But there are fears that the Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, might give MPs every opportunity to pass an Act of Parliament that could stop the UK leaving the EU on WTO terms. Even if he has to re-interpret the Commons rule book to do it.

It has though been mooted that one way to stop MPs having such a vote would be to prorogue parliament at the critical moment.

Hannah White of the Institute for Government explains proroguing parliament like this:

"In between elections, Parliament normally operates on a yearly cycle with annual ‘sessions’ beginning with the ‘opening’ of Parliament and ending in its ‘prorogation’. …… Normally the Queen returns a few days later to open Parliament again so the next session can begin and a new programme of legislation can be introduced."

And any legislation in the pipeline when parliament is prorogued falls aside unless it is carried over.

So, the thinking goes that, if we're getting close to the Brexit date of the 31st of October without a deal and MPs look like they are gearing up to make a play to stop a no deal Brexit, then the government can, using its prerogative powers, end that parliamentary session until after the due date has come and gone.

Now, the Institute for Government has produced a paper saying that it would be all but impossible to stop a determined executive from taking the UK out of the EU without a deal, if it were minded to.

But the Speaker has already telegraphed that he will do all he can to give MPs the chance to squash that option.

So Raab's threat of prorogation is probably more aimed at Bercow than at MPs in general.

But the Speaker has already hit back at this by saying:

"As we all know, because I have said it several times and I think the honourable gentleman believes this. Is that Parliament will not be evacuated from the centre stage of the decision making process on this important matter.

"That is simply not going to happen. It’s just so blindingly obvious that it almost doesn’t need to be stated, but apparently, it does and therefore I have done."

Now, Hannah White in her Institute for Government article says that using prorogation for this purpose would be undemocratic and would probably trigger a general election as well.

All I can say is, how can it be undemocratic to force parliament to deliver on the promises most of its MPs made in the 2016 referendum, in the 2017 general election and in passing the legislation to both trigger Article 50 and to withdraw from the bloc?

It seems that the fact we elected a bunch of liars into the House of Commons trumps the democratic wishes of the people as indicated by the way they voted.

And a general election? With Nigel Farage and The Brexit Party on the rampage, this bunch of MPs would, I think, do everything in their power to prevent such an occurrence.

One other important point Hannah makes though, is that proroguing parliament in this way, for political purposes, would drag the Monarchy into the Brexit argument, which would be highly controversial. This is because it is the Queen that prorogues parliament, so doing so could be an indication she is in favour of Brexit and vice versa.

So maybe prorogation shouldn't be the first resort. But if there's no other option left, then what would there be left to lose?

But one Tory leadership hopeful has already rejected the idea. Matt Hancock Tweeted out:

"Proroguing Parliament undermines parliamentary democracy and risks a general election. I rule it out and call on all candidates to do the same."

But the real point to make here, is that the only way the UK will now leave the EU on the 31st of October, is if the Tory MPs offer up at least one hard Brexiteer in the final two candidates for the Tory membership to choose between and then for the membership to also vote for that candidate.

Without that, it will be delay and in all probability Remain all the way!

All we can hope for is that a strong message comes out of the Peterborough by-election count tonight that concentrates the minds of those involved in electing our new Prime Minister.


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