In a move that surprised almost no one but angered almost everyone, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today that, at his request, the Queen prorogued Parliament from mid-September to October 14th:
The effect of the decision will be to curtail the time MPs have to introduce legislation or other measures aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit – and increase the pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to table a vote of no confidence next week.
If Johnson lost that vote, there would then be a 14-day period in which the Labour party leader, or an alternative candidate, could seek to assemble a majority. If no new government emerges, a general election would have to be held.
But government sources insist Johnson is determined not to go to the polls before Britain is due to leave the EU. “We have been very clear that if there’s a no-confidence vote, he won’t resign. We get to set an election date. We don’t want an election, but if we have to set a date, it’s going to be after 31 October,” said a senior government source.
In practice, given MPs do not sit on most Fridays, they are only likely to lose between four and six sitting days in parliament, depending on which day parliament is prorogued on the second week of September. MPs would have been due to hold conference recess anyway, from 12 September until 7 October.
The plan would leave Parliament out of session for the longest period since 1945. The Speaker, John Bercow, said he will "fight with every breath in [his] body" to prevent the recess.
Columnist Tom Kibasi says Johnson is trying to set up a "people vs Parliament" election:
The last time parliament stepped in to block no deal earlier in the year, the necessary legislation was passed in just three days. Johnson has deliberately left enough time for parliament to seize control again. That’s because Johnson’s real objective is to use Brexit to win a general election, rather than use a general election to secure Brexit. By forcing the hands of his opponents, he has defined the terrain for a “people versus parliament” election. Expect him to run on “Back Boris, Take Back Britain”. He will say that the only way to definitely leave on 31 October is to give him a parliamentary majority to do so. The man of Eton, Oxford and the Telegraph will position himself as the leader of the people against the hated establishment and “remainer elite”.
Johnson's Conservative party are polling ahead of Labor, but none of the four major parties is polling above 33%. A Labour-Liberal Democratic coalition could happen; so could a grand coalition of Remainers.
Parliament returns from its August holiday on September 3rd. Expect fireworks.