MPs stage protest as parliament is suspended for five weeks

PUBLISHED: 08:19 10 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:32 10 September 2019

MPs protest the suspension of parliament. Photograph: Clive Lewis/Twitter.

MPs protest the suspension of parliament. Photograph: Clive Lewis/Twitter.

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A group of MPs have staged a protest in the House of Commons as the official ceremony to suspend parliament took place.

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Signs with "silenced" written on them were held by some Labour MPs and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle appeared to try to hold on to speaker John Bercow at the point he was requested to lead MPs to the Lords, with doorkeepers intervening.

Shouts of "shame on you" could be heard as government MPs left the Commons to head to the House of Lords for the prorogation ceremony.

SNP MPs began singing 'Scots Wha Hae' - considered by the party to be the alternative national anthem - on the Commons benches, while Labour MPs also sang the Red Flag before SNP MP Gavin Newlands jokingly appealed to Conservative MPs to sing - with no response.

A sing-off followed with Labour MPs singing Jerusalem while the SNP sang Flower of Scotland.

Addressing the protests, speaker John Bercow said: "I recognise that our presence is desired by our Majesty the Queen's commissioners. They are doing what they believe to be right and I recognise my role in this matter."

Bercow added: "I'm perfectly happy to play my part, but I do want to make the point that this is not a standard or normal prorogation."

The speaker continued: "It's one of the longest for decades and it represents an act of executive fiat."

Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson shouted at the speaker and left the chamber.

In response, the speaker said: "I don't care if you don't like it. I require no response from you young man. I require no response from you. Get out man, you will not be missed."

Over in the House of Lords both Labour and Liberal Democrat peers boycotted the ceremony in protest at the suspension of parliament.

It was left to Tory leader in the Lords Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, the Lord Speaker Lord Fowler and convener of the independent crossbenchers Lord Hope of Craighead to formally receive the Commons speaker and MPs.

Reading out the Queen's Address, Lady Evans said: "My Lords, and members of the House of Commons, we are commanded to deliver to you Her Majesty's speech in Her Majesty's own words.

"My Lords and members of the House of Commons. My legislative programme has laid the foundation for the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union while pursuing wide-ranging domestic reform.

"Landmark legislation was passed and has now been commenced to repeal the European Communities Act.

"Other laws are in place to enable the United Kingdom's smooth exit from the European Union, establishing new arrangements on international sanctions, nuclear safeguards, customs and reciprocal healthcare arrangements.

"Close to 600 statutory instruments have been made to ensure a functioning statute book following the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union."

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