U.K. government whip in House of Lords quits over move to suspend Parliament

The British government’s enforcer in the upper house quit on Thursday in protest of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament, saying it risks undermining Parliament at a critical time in the country’s history.

George Young, the chief whip, said in a letter to the leader of the House of Lords that he was very unhappy at the timing and length of the prorogation and its motivation. Johnson suspended parliament for over a month before Brexit.

“I have been unpersuaded by the reasons given for that decision, which I believe risks undermining the fundamental role of Parliament at a critical time in our history, and reinforces the view that the Government may not have the confidence of the House for its Brexit policy,” he said.

The letter was posted on Twitter by the BBC.


Also on Thursday, Ruth Davidson quit as leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland, saying she could no longer juggle the demands of being a politician with family life and suggesting she would no longer stand as a politician in 2021.

The 40-year-old led a resurgence of the Conservatives in Scotland during her eight years in charge, providing a counterweight to Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party and winning key seats to help the party retain power in Westminster.

Davidson, who had backed Remain in the 2016 European Union referendum, said she would continue to support the party, the prime minister and Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom.

“I fear that having tried to be a good leader over the years, I have proved a poor daughter, sister, partner and friend,” she said in a letter to the chairman of the Scottish party.

On Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth approved Johnson’s request, Britain’s Privy Council confirmed in a statement. Although Johnson previously had refused to rule out proroguing Parliament, the timing of the decision took lawmakers — many of whom are on vacation — by surprise, and caused opposition legislators to react with fury.

MPs contend Johnson wants to limit the ability of lawmakers to come up with legislation to block a no-deal Brexit.


Analysts at the Dutch-based ING Group, a financial services corporation, created a Brexit possibility flow chart, including predictions on which Brexit scenario is most likely. (ING)

The prime minister said the Queen approved suspending Parliament for 32 days, from Sept. 12 to Oct.14, the day Johnson asked her to deliver her speech outlining the government’s legislative agenda.

Since Parliament is normally suspended before the speech, the decision means opposition MPs would be unlikely to have enough time to pass laws blocking the U.K.’s exit from the European Union without a negotiated deal by Oct. 31.

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