The UK parliament on Tuesday shut down for five weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s talks with his Irish counterpart failed to make any headway on the issue.
Parliament was suspended – or prorogued – at just before 2.00 am. There were unprecedented scenes of chaos and anger in the House of Commons overnight as opposition MPs staged a protest against the suspension – a prorogation that House of Commons’ Speaker John Bercow called “an act of executive fiat”.
Some MPs protested against the suspension with signs saying “silenced” while shouting, “shame on you”. Several MPs were also involved in an altercation near the Speaker’s chair as they attempted to prevent him leaving his seat and attending the House of Lords, the next step in the formalities required for the suspension of Parliament, the BBC reported.
The chaos unfolded in the early hours of Tuesday morning, after a day of high drama in which Johnson lost his sixth parliamentary vote in as many days and Bercow announced his impending retirement as Speaker.
The prime minister said he “wants to get a deal” with the European Union on the divorce and was not worried about UK MPs’ moves to block a no-deal Brexit.
“I’m absolutely undaunted by whatever may take place in parliament,” Johnson said.
“We must get Brexit done because the UK must come out on October 31 or else I fear that permanent damage will be done to confidence in our democracy in the UK.”
On Monday, trade union leaders were the latest to criticise the prime minister as a “lame duck” and a “coward”.
“The prime minister acts like he’s the clown prince of Downing Street but the last thing we need now is BoJo the clown in charge – and Brexit isn’t a game,” Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady said in a speech.
Ahead of the vote, Johnson had said, “No matter how many devices this Parliament invents to tie my hands, I will strive to get an agreement in the national interest. This government will not delay Brexit any further. We will not allow the emphatic verdict of the referendum to be slowly suffocated by further calculated drift and paralysis”.
On Monday, Johnson suffered another defeat as MPs backed calls for the publication of government communications relating to the suspension of Parliament and its no-deal plans.