Johnson Seeks Legal Advice on Closing Parliament: Observer

Maria Jose Valero

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Attorney General Geoffrey Cox if parliament can be shut down for five weeks starting early next month, the Observer reported, citing a leaked email from senior government advisers to an adviser in No. 10 Downing Street.

The move appears to be part of a concerted plan to stop House of Commons lawmakers from further extending the Brexit deadline, according to the newspaper, which said the correspondence was written over the last 10 days.

The period Johnson is asking about covers Sept. 9 to mid-October, by which time it would be too late for MPs to derail the Brexit process.

The claim that the government is considering proroguing parliament in September in order to stop MPs debating Brexit is entirely false, a government spokesman said.

It would be rare for any prime minister to try to bring a session of parliament to a premature close, known as proroguing, solely for strategic reasons. The issue has developed into a potential flashpoint since Johnson became premier and started openly pushing for the U.K. to leave the European Union without a deal on Oct. 31.

Some members of Johnson’s Conservative Party, including former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, have been plotting how to stop the country crashing out of the bloc. John Bercow, the House of Commons Speaker responsible for parliamentary procedure, reportedly told an audience this month that he would use “every bone in my body” to stop Johnson suspending parliament.

(Adds government reaction)

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