UK Parliament Suspended For Second Time in Two Months, Ending Longest Session in Centuries

A Union flag flies from a pole atop the Victoria Tower at the Houses of Parliament in London on October 9, 2019. - Brexit talks between Britain and the European Union teetered on the brink of collapse on Tuesday, with tit-for-tat claims of intransigence and sabotage before an end of …
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The Westminster Parliament was suspended Tuesday evening, potentially closing a period of bitter acrimony over whether the longest session in British history should end, an argument which ended up in the UK Supreme Court last month.

The prorogation — Westminster jargon for being suspended, pending the commencement of a new session — is the second in as many months, after the first enacted at the start of September was annulled by the Supreme Court after a series of legal challenges by anti-Brexit campaigners.

Yet after reportedly taking further legal advice and even consulting with the Supreme Court which ruled against the previous suspension, Parliament has now been suspended again, the constitutional ceremony taking place Tuesday evening. The Speaker of the House of Commons and members were summoned to the Lords where the royal notice setting out the suspension was read out.

Having run from June 21st 2017 to October 8th 2019, the session was the longest in British history — the next longest having taken place in 17th century English parliament before the modern state of the United Kingdom had come to exist. Under more normal circumstances parliamentary sessions are suspended annually and last less than 400 days — this session lasted 839.

Unlike the first effort to close Parliament, the ceremony prompted little media attention and was attended by only a handful of Parliamentarians.

Parliamentarians have met some criticism over their attendance at the reactivated Parliament, after protesting the last prorogation was restricting their ability to hold the government to account. British newspaper The Express reports the remarks of Tory MP Michael Fabricant, who said of the opposition failing to turn up to debates despite having dragged the government through the courts to be able to do so: “So opposition MPs opposed prorogation ‘to better scrutinise the Government on Brexit’.

“Yet, when that opportunity arises, most of them are absent. What utter hypocrisy.”


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