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OPPOSITION leaders accused Boris Johnson of behaving like a dictator and conducting a “smash-and-grab on our democracy” today after the Queen rubber-stamped his request to suspend Parliament for more than a month.
As the Morning Star went to print, swathes of People’s Assembly and Momentum activists were heading to a protest in Parliament Square while a series of emergency “stop the coup” rallies were kicking off in cities across Britain.
The Prime Minister’s unprecedented move will mean MPs have even less time to enact cross-party legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit once Parliament re-opens next week.
Mr Johnson now plans to shut down Parliament just days after it resumes sitting and keep it suspended until mid-October.
His hatchet job on British democracy was signed off by the Queen after the PM’s Old Etonian pal Jacob Rees-Mogg turned up at Balmoral with the papers for her to sign.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn voiced outraged at what has been described as a turn towards dictatorship.
It also piles pressure on him to push through a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson, having placed that option on the “back burner” after a meeting with other party leaders earlier this week.
Mr Corbyn now pledges that “the first thing we’ll do is attempt legislation to prevent what [Mr Johnson] is doing” followed by a vote of no confidence at a later stage.
He said he had “protested in the strongest possible terms” on behalf of Labour in a letter to the Queen and called for a meeting alongside other opposition members of the Privy Council.
He said: “Suspending Parliament is not acceptable, it is not on.
“What the Prime Minister is doing is a smash-and-grab on our democracy to force through a no-deal.”
“This is extraordinary. He needs to be held to account by Parliament.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell dubbed the move a “very British coup.”
“Whatever one’s views on Brexit, once you allow a prime minister to prevent the full and free operation of our democratic institutions, you are on a very precarious path,” he said.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Mr Johnson was “acting like a dictator” in using the Queen’s Speech on October 14 as “cover” to shut down Parliament and “force through an extreme Brexit.”
He said: “This is a dark day for democracy in the UK. The Tory leader has no mandate, no majority and is acting like a dictator by attempting to curtail Parliament to get his way.”
Mr Johnson denied that the suspension was intended to allow him to force through a no-deal Brexit.
He said he did not want to wait until after Britain leaves the EU — which is due to happen on October 31 — “before getting on with our plans to take this country forward.” He insisted there would still be “ample time” for debate.
He received support from US President Donald Trump, who also tweeted that Mr Corbyn’s chances of winning a no-confidence vote were slim.
Mr Corbyn responded: “I think what the US president is saying is that Boris Johnson is exactly what he has been looking for, a compliant Prime Minister who will hand Britain’s public services and protections over to US corporations in a free-trade deal.”
A snap poll by YouGov found that 47 per cent of Britons felt it was unacceptable for the government to suspend Parliament in the run-up to Brexit, compared with just 27 per cent who supported it.
A petition on the Parliament website started this morning to oppose the proroguing already had more than 500,000 signatures by the time the Star went to print.
People’s Assembly organiser Shabbir Lakha said: “The neutral Queen has just allowed Boris Johnson, leading an unelected government with a confidence and supply majority of one, to suspend the country’s main democratic institution. This is beyond unacceptable.”
Labour’s Jamie Driscoll, mayor of the North of Tyne, called for action and said: “Boris Johnson’s attempt to derail democracy by proroguing Parliament has all the trappings of a coup.
“Our parents and grandparents did not fight dictators to see it happen here.”
Rail union Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “Whatever your views on Brexit, the democratic process must underpin what is done in all our names — or civil unrest will be the result.
“It is disturbing that a Prime Minister, who only has a mandate from the Conservative Party and not from the electorate, is trying to undermine the foundations of our democracy.”
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