Speakers past and present criticise Raab plan to suspend parliament to force through no-deal

Past speaker Betty Boothroyd (left) and present speaker John Bercow (right).

Past speaker Betty Boothroyd (left) and present speaker John Bercow (right). - Credit: Archant

Speakers past and present have criticised Brexiteer Dominic Raab's suggestion that he could prorogue parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit against the wishes of MPs if he becomes prime minister.

Present speaker John Bercow insisted parliament will "not be evacuated" from the Brexit decision-making process.

He said it was "blindingly obvious" this was the situation but reiterated it against the backdrop of Tory leadership candidate Dominic Raab, a former Brexit secretary, telling colleagues he would be prepared to prorogue, or temporarily shut down, parliament to make sure Brexit happens on October 31.

Bercow told MPs: "Parliament will not be evacuated from the centre stage of the decision-making process on this important matter. That's simply not going to happen."

The comments had been prompted by SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart, who earlier said: "There is one thing that has come out of their hustings so far and that is this suggestion that this parliament could be prorogued to facilitate a no-deal Brexit.

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"The first thing this leader of the house has to say this morning is that this subversion of democracy will never be considered or entertained, and that he has no intention of suspending democracy in this country to facilitate that no-deal Brexit."

Commons leader Mel Stride replied: "Prorogation is of course, ultimately, in the gift of the Queen.

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"And what I would say is I do think that Her Majesty should be kept out of the politics of our parliament, and I am sure that will be a matter that will be at the forefront of those who toy with those decisions in the future."

Labour former minister Chris Bryant said: "I think your answers on prorogation and on whether a new prime minister will address the house swiftly after being elected have been wholly inadequate so far.

"It must surely be on a Venezuelan scale of outrage if we were to prorogue parliament simply so as to force through a no-deal Brexit against the will of parliament."

Former speaker of the House, and leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign, Baroness Betty Boothroyd also criticised the plan.

She said Raab wouldn't survive for five minutes as prime minister if he tried to override parliamentary democracy.

"Dominic Raab wants to become prime minister by pitching to a very narrow slice of the electorate - members of the Conservative party who mostly voted for Nigel Farage a couple of weeks back. Dominic Raab thinks he can win their support by stopping either MPs or the public having the final say on Brexit.

"But I have a message for this ambitious young man: you don't treat our parliament, our democracy or our people that way. If you even try to impose your No Deal Brexit on us by cancelling parliamentary proceedings, you won't survive as prime minister for five minutes, you will be booted out of office and you are not worthy of your seat in parliament which should be reserved for those who deserve the title of democrats."

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