If a week is a long time in politics, this week could be one of the most extraordinary you’ll ever know

Former Prime Minister Harold Wilson once noted that a week is a long time in politics. But even he never experienced the kind of week that lies ahead of us in the British parliamentary scene. It is going to be constitutionally fascinating and politically turbulent and historically seismic.

As the “Guardian” summary puts it:


A meeting due to take place between Boris Johnson and former Conservative cabinet ministers including Philip Hammond and David Gauke, was cancelled on Sunday night. Hammond declined a one-to-one meeting, calling it “discourteous” to cancel on the group. Parliament still in recess.


MPs officially return to Westminster, though in practice many are likely to arrive on Monday.

It will be the first opportunity for the Speaker, John Bercow, to give his response from the chair on the decision to prorogue parliament, a move he has described as a constitutional outrage.

The first step for rebel MPs in trying to stop a no-deal Brexit is likely to be a request for an emergency debate under standing order 24, which Bercow is likely to grant. In order for MPs to seize control of the Commons order paper – the parliamentary timetable for the week ahead – they will need to use the time to table a business motion and be permitted to do so by the Speaker.

If rebels can win the vote on the business motion, they can use the time to table a new short bill which will order the prime minister to seek an extension to article 50 to prevent no deal. It is still unclear how long that extension will be and how MPs can ensure Johnson will actually request a meaningful extension.

Legal efforts to stop the prorogation of parliament will also get under way in Edinburgh, where the court will consider one of three legal challenges.


The chancellor, Sajid Javid, is set to present his spending review to parliament – though this will very much depend on how radically MPs have changed the order paper. It will also be Johnson’s first prime minister’s questions.

The day is likely to be used to clear all the Commons stages for a bill mandating an extension of Article 50.


The high court in London is due to consider another judicial review of Johnson’s plans to prorogue parliament, led by the anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller with other litigants including the former prime minister John Major and the Labour deputy leader, Tom Watson.

It is unclear if the rebels’ bill will have cleared the Commons by Thursday but there is a belief that it would be better to ensure it has reached the House of Lords as soon as possible because unlike in the House of Commons, peers can attempt to filibuster the bill with a huge number of wrecking amendments which must all be heard.


Parliament is not due to sit on Friday or at the weekend but peers could table a motion to sit through the weekend and get through all of the potentially disruptive amendments.

Johnson has reserved the right to prorogue parliament as early as Monday and if the bill fails to pass before parliament is suspended, the bill will fall. If the bill passes, rebels believe that the government cannot obstruct the Queen from giving royal assent so it becomes law.

The situation if the bill passes is then highly volatile – it is possible Johnson could opt to call an early general election.


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