MPs plan six week recess despite looming Brexit deadline
- Credit: PA
A six week summer recess is planned for the House of Commons despite the looming Brexit deadline.
Commons Leader Mel Stride said the chamber is expected to rise for the summer once business is completed on July 25 and will not return until September 3.
A further recess could be scheduled in September for the party conferences, which would further reduce the sitting time in the Commons before Brexit deadline on October 31.
The winner of the Conservative leadership election will be announced on July 22 but there is no obligation for Theresa May to immediately resign.
She could delay her resignation to ensure there was no prospect of her successor being held to account in Parliament.
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Stride, said: "Colleagues will also wish to know that subject to the progress of business the House will rise for the summer recess at the close of business on Thursday, July 25 and return on Tuesday, September 3."
Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz replied: "That is clearly very helpful for all honourable members."
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"I'm pleased we now have a recess date but could the leader of the house confirm who will be at the despatch box on Wednesday July 24?
"I understand on July 22 all the (Tory leadership) results will be out, perhaps he could let us know... I think it's only fair to the outgoing Prime Minister that she knows when it's her last prime minister's Questions, and to us as well and to parliament more importantly."
It opens up the prospect of Theresa May's successor facing a confidence motion before the summer, with Labour pushing for clarity on when the new prime minister will appear before MPs.
Stride gave a light-hearted response in which he mocked regular attendees of business questions.
He said: "Having just announced the summer recess dates an idea has occurred to me - we meet as a merry band on Thursdays, we are like a tightly-knit club and I just wonder if perhaps this recess we might keep the camaraderie going and all go off on holiday together.
"I would be happy to hire a bus or a charabanc and as the new leader, who as you know has brought such a powerful sense of direction and renewed purpose to this House, I'd be happy to drive it.
"And nothing would give me more pleasure than for my new found friend, the shadow leader, to join me.
"She would be serenaded of course by the ever cheerful (SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart) on the pipes, or maybe the banjo, accompanied by (Tory MP John Hayes) showing his musical prowess on the spoons while spouting Wordsworth, Keats and John Clare and regaling us with cheery tales of those halcyon Victorian times when small boys cheerfully shinned up chimney and widespread malnutrition and rickets were a mere footnote to a far happier age."
Not all MPs are pleased with the decision of a sixweek recess.
Owen Smith MP, leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign, said: "It is outrageous that this tattered government is planning to let Boris Johnson get five weeks without facing any sort of parliamentary scrutiny.
"Mr Johnson has already used any and every chance he can get to avoid answering questions and now he is to be allowed to rule without facing any tests or questioning by the elected representatives of the people.
"With the Brexit crisis deepening - the Bank of England have just revised their economic growth forecasts down to zero - this is not the moment for leaders to behave like 17th century monarchs who think they can rule by divine right, it is the time to offer serious and credible ways out of the mess.
"The clock is ticking down on the precious extension negotiated with the EU in March. Before long we will be back on a cliff-edge so this is no time to head for the beach. A long recess at this moment is little better than the suspension of democracy by stealth - it may well be what some exhausted MPs want but it is the last thing we need.
"Instead, the answer is to give parliament the time it needs to recognise that the only way to end the gridlock and legitimise any outcome of this disastrous process is to let the public have the final say on Brexit through a People's Vote."