Anti-Brexit group calls on MPs to stage sit-in protest over parliament suspension

© James Kelly

Anti-Brexit group Another Europe is Possible, which has led the organisation of nationwide #StopTheCoup rallies over recent weeks, has now launched a petition calling for MPs to stage a sit-in protest tonight.

It has been confirmed today that the government is using its prerogative powers to suspend parliament at the end of business tonight for five weeks until October 14th. This will allow Boris Johnson to avoid scrutiny via PMQs and the Liaison Committee this week.

At first, the suspension was widely thought to be designed to prevent MPs from debating and voting on Brexit. But the House of Commons has now passed the Benn Bill aiming to prevent no deal on October 31st, which is expected to gain Royal Assent today.

The petition promoted by Remain campaigners – ‘Tell your MP: Stay in parliament when the suspension happens’ – has led to nearly 2,000 emails being sent to parliamentarians so far.

Its explanatory text states: “Boris Johnson, an unelected Prime Minister without a parliamentary majority, is using the powers of the Queen in order to shut down parliament because it disagrees with him.

“The government’s hope is that suspending parliament will make it harder for parliament to stop a no deal Brexit. The passage of the Benn Bill has made Johnson’s aim more difficult, but the suspension of parliament is a democratic outrage and must be fought.

“As my representative in parliament, I am asking you not to leave the chamber when parliament is formally prorogued, but to continue sitting in protest at this assault on our democracy.”

LabourList understands that a number of Labour MPs are planning to make many successive points of order tonight and possibly use other parliamentary devices to extend the final session of parliament.

At the end of August, Labour MP and shadow minister Clive Lewis pledged to stage a sit-in protest over the decision to prorogue parliament during a crucial time.

In a LabourList article, the MP for Norwich South said: “I tweeted that if Boris Johnson suspends parliament, they will have to drag me out of the chamber. This wasn’t an empty threat posted in the heat of the moment – I meant it. Multiple colleagues have told me they are prepared to do the same.”

He added: “We will occupy parliament if we need to. We will call an extraordinary session if that’s what it takes to stop no deal and defend fundamental democratic principles. While we’re inside, we will need millions of people supporting us outside.”

Although the situation has changed now that MPs have passed legislation blocking an October 31st no deal, LabourList has contacted Lewis for comment on whether he plans to occupy the chamber tonight, when the suspension is due to start.

Commenting on the prorogation announcement today, Hilary Benn said: “It is extraordinary that Boris Johnson will shut down parliament this evening for over a month at the very moment when we need our elected MPs to be in the House of Commons holding the government to account.

“It also means that the Prime Minister will avoid having to face questions from the Liaison Committee on Wednesday. I don’t think he was relishing the prospect.”

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