Dominic Grieve calls prorogation 'tantamount to a coup' as he threatens to bring down government

PUBLISHED: 12:07 28 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:42 28 August 2019

Dominic Grieve. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

Dominic Grieve. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

The former attorney general has told broadcasters he would vote to bring down the government in a no-confidence motion if Boris Johnson persists in proroguing parliament in the pursuit of a no-deal Brexit.

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The government has announced its intention to suspend parliament from September 9 until October 14, when a Queen's Speech would reopen parliament.

The move has been met with outrage from Remainer MPs who have been left with drastically reduced time to block a no-deal Brexit using parliamentary methods.

READ: Reports: Government to ask Queen to suspend parliament

Dominic Grieve told Sky News that the move is "tantamount to a coup" and "shows amazing contempt for parliament on the part of the prime minister".

Yet Johnson has claimed that the move has nothing to do with Brexit and is solely about his "exciting agenda" for government.

WATCH: PM: It's 'completely untrue' I'm suspending parliament because of Brexit

Grieve answered this claim in a conversation on BBC Radio 5 Live. "He knows very well that this is a national crisis, that there is great parliamentary disquiet about no-deal Brexit," he told Nicky Campbell. "This is a deliberate act by him to try to engineer that parliament shouldn't sit for a month-long five-week period between September and October in order to prevent us from discussing business."

He explained that the normal process of prorogation, in advance of launching a new government agenda with a Queen's Speech, takes around four or five days.

To break for such a lengthy period at a time of national crisis is "unconstitutional", said the former attorney general.

"This is a completely unusual use of prorogation power, and it's one in my view which is unconstitutional in the circumstances in which we find ourselves."

He said that he will "certainly" vote to bring down the prime minister's government if he continues in this course of action.

"I think there are a number of things we can do," he said. "but I think that one's got to understand that at the end of the day if the prime minister persists with this and doesn't back off and we're not able to make him back off, then I think really that the chances are that his administration will collapse [...] His government will come down."

He said that there is "plenty" of time to bring a vote of no confidence, and said that his vote would embolden other wavering Tories even if it meant potentially bringing Jeremy Corbyn to power.

"We'll have to see what happens after that," he said. "It doesn't necessarily mean a Corbyn government, it might mean a number of things will happen. But we'll just have to wait and see."

However, the Financial Times has reported claims from senior officials in Number 10 that the government would refuse to resign if they lost a no-confidence vote.

"If MPs pass a no confidence vote next week then we won't resign," said the source. "We won't recommend another government."

Instead, the source reportedly said, the government would dissolve parliament and call an election between the first and fifth of November.

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