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The UK Government seeks to prorogue Parliament

August 28, 2019

The Government has asked the Queen to suspend, or ‘prorogue’ Parliament, meaning that Parliament will not sit from 10 September until 14 October. The Order confirming the prorogation of Parliament can be found here.

As set out in an earlier House of Commons Library paper, prorogation “is the means (otherwise than by dissolution) by which a Parliamentary session is brought to an end”. It has generally been regarded as a formality and often happens in the autumn – and the current session of Parliament has already lasted longer than is usual. An effect of prorogation is that it brings to an end all proceedings in the current Parliamentary session and unless specific provision is made, no business of a previous Parliamentary session may be carried over into the next session.

The stated reason for the proposal is to schedule a Queen’s speech for a new session of Parliament, which would set out proposals for a new legislative agenda. However, an effect of the move is that it is likely to become harder for opposition parties and MPs to pass legislation which would seek to prevent a no-deal Brexit. When Parliament returns on 14 October, there will be 10 sitting days prior to 31 October, and 3 sitting days prior to EU leaders summit on 17 October, currently scheduled to be the final such summit prior to Brexit.

An alternative course of action which has been proposed by opponents of the Government is for a vote of no confidence in the Government. However, even if such a vote were successful, due to the operation of the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011, a resultant General Election might not take place until after the UK had left the EU.