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Brexit Update - 30 Aug 2020

30th August 2019

Richard Hull

Britain appears to be heading towards a constitutional crisis.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has asked the Queen to prorogue (or suspend) parliament, in an apparent attempt to limit the time that MPs have to legislate to avoid a No Deal Brexit. Leaving the EU without a deal appears to be the government’s aim, as Mr Johnson has now said that he intends to leave on 31 October, “Do or die.”

This means that the Queen had to choose between shutting down parliament, against the wishes of parliament itself, or refusing the request of her own government. She chose to prorogue parliament.

This week, the leaders of the opposition parties had met to discuss a proposed vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s government. The meeting ended with a cross-party agreement to attempt to legislate to avoid a No Deal Brexit, although the threat of Jeremy Corbyn calling a vote of no confidence remains.

Dominic Grieve, Conservative MP and the former attorney general, called the government’s move: “an outrageous act,” saying that: “This government will come down.” Senior figures such as John Major, the former Conservative prime minister, have previously opposed suspending parliament, saying that he would go to court to stop it.

Joanna Cherry, QC, who, along with 75 current MPs, is currently pursuing an action in the Scottish courts aimed at preventing Mr Johnson from shutting down parliament, has stated that she is looking into speeding up that process in light of the current move. It is expected that a hearing will take place imminently.

A government source defended suspending parliament, saying: “It’s time a new government and a new PM set out a plan for the country after we leave the EU.”

In his letter to MPs, Mr Johnson said: “I … intend to bring forward a new bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit. There will be a significant Brexit legislative programme to get through but that should be no excuse for a lack of ambition! We will help the NHS, fight violent crime, invest in infrastructure and science and cut the cost of living.”

This has been the longest session of parliament in hundreds of years, due to the paralysis that has been caused by Brexit. The speaker of the house, John Bercow, said: “This move represents a constitutional outrage. However it is dressed up it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty. At this time, one of the most challenging periods in our nation’s history, it is vital that our elected parliament has its say.”

This all means that it is vital that you up your Brexit preparations immediately. If the UK leaves without a deal, there will be no transition period, and it is the exit from the European Union which will have the most impact on business.

Should you require any assistance with Brexit, an audit, or indeed any commercial area, please contact our 3CS Commercial Law team which can advise accordingly.

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Richard Hull

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