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Parliament is suspended, so what is happening on Brexit with MPs gone?

UK News | Published: | Last Updated:

Many politicians may have departed Westminster, but politics will not stop.

Brexit

Boris Johnson has sent MPs packing by suspending Parliament for five weeks in a controversial move as the Brexit deadline looms large.

But politics does not stop when politicians depart Westminster – far from it.

Here the PA news agency looks at what will happen before the current Brexit deadline of October 31.

POLITICS Brexit
(PA Graphics)

– EU negotiations ahead of the summit

The Prime Minister’s team will continue negotiations with Brussels in an attempt to get a new deal.

Mr Johnson has long pledged to tear up the backstop to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, which was a main sticking point for Theresa May during her three failed attempts to get her agreement past MPs.

One suggested solution was a “Northern Ireland-only” backstop, which would keep the region closely aligned with the EU in certain areas while creating a border with Great Britain in the Irish Sea.

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This would be contentious for many and the PM’s official spokesman said officials were “not seeking” such an arrangement.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson (Niall Carson/PA)

Critics have also questioned whether the PM’s negotiations are genuine.

He is scheduled to head to Brussels on October 17 to meet European leaders at the EU summit.

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With the EU27 firmly ruling out renegotiation, one option for Mr Johnson is to tweak his predecessor’s Withdrawal Agreement and bill it as a Brussels backdown on the backstop.

MPs, however, may still reject this.

– Extending the deadline

Under the Act forced through by MPs including Tory rebels, the PM must ask for an extension to Brexit until the end of January if no new deal has been secured by October 19.

But with Mr Johnson having said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than request a delay beyond the current Halloween deadline, opposition MPs are on the watchout for a trick.

House of Commons
MPs pack the Commons (House of Commons/PA)

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said ministers will “test to the limit” what the law requires, heightening fears of a ploy.

Legal experts have said the PM would be breaking the law if he tried to scupper attempts to get an extension.

– Pseudo-election campaigns

Election? What election?

The PM has twice failed to get MPs to back a general election, but this does not mean his unofficial election campaign is not well under way.

POLITICS Brexit Election
(PA Graphics)

Opposition leaders including Jeremy Corbyn say they will seek a general election only after a no-deal Brexit has been averted.

Though a polling date is unlikely before mid-November, Mr Johnson kicked off his charm attempts with a trip to Yorkshire on Thursday.

Delivering a speech, he at times appeared flustered following his brother’s resignation from the Government and controversially stood in front of a backdrop of police recruits as he re-announced his drive to hire more officers.

Mr Corbyn delivered a speech at the TUC Congress on Tuesday where he pledged a vast expansion of employment rights and threatened the PM with the “biggest people-powered campaign”.

“So a general election is coming. But we won’t allow Johnson to dictate the terms,” the Labour leader said.

– See you in court

Gina Miller, the campaigner who previously beat the Government in the courts over the triggering of Article 50, has pledged to appeal over a ruling against her challenge to Parliament’s suspension.

Scotland’s highest civil court, the Court of Session, is expected to give its judgment to the prorogation from Wednesday, while an appeal case against the PM’s Brexit strategy is ongoing in Northern Ireland.

If Mr Johnson tries to wriggle out of the extension request, he could face more legal woes with the matter ending up in the Supreme Court.

– Order! Order! We need a new Speaker

With John Bercow announcing he would stand down as Commons Speaker by the end of October, campaigning will begin to succeed him in the influential post.

Labour former minister Harriet Harman, the longest-standing female MP as Mother of the House, announced she would run in the election.

Deputy speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who is also Labour, and veteran Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh earlier confirmed their intentions to stand.

– When do MPs return?

October 14.

Yes, that’s just 17 days before the current Brexit deadline.

Mr Bercow described it as “not a standard or normal prorogation” during chaotic scenes in the Commons, and opposition MPs held up placards saying they had been “silenced”.

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