Commons chaos as Boris Johnson loses bid to call election and shuts down parliament

Written by Matt Honeycombe-Foster on 10 September 2019 in News

MPs rejected Boris Johnson's bid to hold an election and attacked his decision to shut down parliament

Boris Johnson in House of Commons - Image credit: PA

The House of Commons descended into chaos in the early hours of Tuesday as MPs rejected Boris Johnson's bid to hold an election and attacked his decision to shut down parliament.

Opposition MPs attempted to prevent Speaker John Bercow from leaving his seat and shouted "shame on you" at the Conservative benches as prorogation proceedings began in the chamber.

The controversial suspension of proceedings - which means that parliament will not now sit again until 14 October - came after MPs voted to reject the prime minister's latest attempt to call an October general election.

Amid a wave of abstentions, 293 MPs threw their weight behind the Prime Minister's motion calling for a snap poll - well short of the 434 needed under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

Reacting to the move, Johnson branded Labour MPs - who were ordered to oppose the election - "yellow bellies".

He said: "I earlier urged the House to trust the people — but once again the opposition think they know better. They want to delay Brexit yet again... and most egregiously of all, not only have they failed to choose the way ahead, they have now twice denied the British people their say."

The rejection of the PM's bid to hold an election in October marks his sixth Commons defeat in just six days, and comes after MPs ordered the Government to hand over details of their private discussions on the reasons behind the decision to suspend parliament.

Bercow, who had earlier announced he would quit as Speaker by 31 October, was meanwhile heckled from the Tory benches as he left the chair and openly criticised the move to shut down the chamber.

He said: "I will play my part, this is not, however, a normal prorogation, it is not typical, it is not standard.

“It’s one of the longest for decades and it represents not just in the minds of many colleagues but huge numbers of people outside, an act of executive fiat."

A group of Labour MPs held up signs reading 'silenced' as the formal procedure to prorogue parliament commenced, while SNP MPs broke into a rendition of the song 'Scots Wha Hae'.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile said he would not walk into "traps laid by this Prime Minister" as he stressed that his party would not back an election until a no-deal Brexit at the end of October had been averted.

He said: "The Prime Minister has seemingly failed to grasp that the Opposition benches have been very clear and the House has expressed its will. Until the Act has been complied with, until No Deal is off the table, we will not vote for an election.

"I want an election. The Conservative Party has very generously broadcast footage of me and my friends saying we want an election. I do not retreat from that wish whatsoever. We are eager for an election.

"But as keen as we are for an election, we are not prepared to risk inflicting the disaster of No Deal on our constituents."

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson vowed to stop the Prime Minister using an election "to sneak through a dangerous no-deal Brexit, for which he has no mandate".

She said: "As Boris Johnson can’t seem to win a vote in parliament, he has decided to silence us until 14 October. But we will not be silenced."

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