07:56, September 09 213 0 theguardian.com

2019-09-09 07:56:04
Boris Johnson to prorogue parliament on Monday night

Boris Johnson will formally suspend parliament for five weeks from Monday night, after the bill forcing him to ask for a three-month extension to Brexit if the UK is heading for no deal becomes law.

The government will move a prorogation motion at the close of parliamentary business on Monday, meaning MPs will not return to the House of Commons until 14 October.

Before parliament is suspended, the Benn bill is expected to receive royal assent, which means Johnson should be forced to request an extension to the Brexit deadline until January 2020 if there is no deal by 19 October.

However, Downing Street is still insisting that neither Johnson nor any member of his government will under any circumstances ask the EU for an extension to article 50.

Johnson’s official spokesman stressed on Monday morning that Johnson would abide by the law but also refuse to request any delay.

Eurosceptic MPs are insisting that Johnson still has options for “sabotaging” any request for an extension, such as making clear separately that he does not really want one.

However, Jonathan Sumption, a former supreme court judge, said it would be in contempt of court if Johnson applied for article 50 extension while simultaneously trying to get the EU to reject it.

Nigel Evans, a Tory backbencher and supporter of Johnson, said the prime minister was more likely to call for a vote of no confidence in his own government or try to force an election via another means than to go to Brussels to ask for an article 50 extension.

The joint executive secretary of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs told the Today programme: “I cannot see under the current circumstances Boris Johnson going to Brussels and asking for that extension.”

Before parliament is suspended, Johnson will make yet another attempt to force a general election before the current Brexit deadline of 31 October, but opposition parties are united in refusing to grant one until a no deal Brexit is avoided.

Criticising the prorogation the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said: “I think it is disgraceful. Parliament should be sitting.

“Parliament should be holding the government to account. And the prime minister appears to want to run away from questions.”

Other opposition MPs also expressed their anger at the announcement. Labour’s Diana Johnson tweeted: “This is simply wrong at a time of national crisis. I would be willing to sit day and night until 31 October to get this sorted out. This is what a real leader would do not send MPs away.”

Shadow housing minister Alex Cunningham posted: “I am appalled that Johnson is shutting down parliament at a time of national crisis – but it’s not just Brexit – it’s the NHS starved of cash, increasing crime, education with schools desperate for more resources, housing, poverty, poor wages, cuts in council services and much more.”