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Johnson's Parliament suspension sparks backlash

Aug 28 2019 22:15
Jessica Shankleman, Robert Hutton and Ian Wishart, Bloomberg

The United Kingdom Parliament will be suspended for almost five weeks ahead of Brexit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's move sets up a showdown with lawmakers who want to block him from taking the UK out of the European Union without a deal. 

Here is what you need to know

Davidson set to quit as Scottish Tory leader

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative Party leader, is set to resign because of her opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit position and pressures as a new mother, the Sun reported, citing people in the party it didn't identify.

This would be a huge blow to the Scottish Tories, and English ones too. Theresa May only survived the 2017 election - and Johnson is only prime minister now - because of Davidson's campaigning in Scotland that delivered 13 seats.

A spokesman for Davidson said she would make her position clear "in due course" and said there would be no further comment on Wednesday evening.

UK, EU agree to step up Brexit negotiations

The UK and EU will hold Brexit talks more regularly from next week, a British government spokesman said following a meeting between David Frost, the UK's EU envoy, and European Commission officials in Brussels on Wednesday.

The two sides agreed to "intensify discussions," the spokesperson said. Frost and members of the commission's Brexit taskforce discussed the contentious Irish border backstop, the spokesperson said.

Corbyn doubles down in response to Trump

Jeremy Corbyn has responded to US President Donald Trump, who tweeted earlier that the Labour leader would find it "hard" to call a no-confidence vote in the government given that Boris Johnson "is exactly what the UK has been looking for."

"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," Corbyn replied.

Corbyn, Swinson both seek meeting with Queen

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his Liberal Democrat counterpart Jo Swinson have both requested meetings with the Queen to raise concerns about Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament.

Corbyn asked for a meeting along with other privy councilors, and said in his letter that there is a danger the royal prerogative is being set directly against the wishes of a majority of the House of Commons.

Johnson "is outrageously stifling the voices of both the people and their representatives," Swinson said in a statement. "I've written to the Queen to express my concern at Boris Johnson's anti-democratic plan to shut down Parliament, and to request an urgent meeting".

Barclay reiterates UK leaving EU in October

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay followed Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney onto the stage in Paris, telling the audience of entrepreneurs the UK would be leaving the EU on October 31 "whatever the circumstances".

He also repeated the government's demand that arrangements for the post-Brexit Irish border - the key sticking point between the two sides - should be dealt with in negotiations on the future relationship rather than as part of the withdrawal agreement. It's a demand the EU has repeatedly rejected.

Coveney: Backstop only viable solution 'currently'

The backstop is "currently" the only viable solution to the post-Brexit border issue, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said at a conference in Paris. While the withdrawal agreement can’t be renegotiated, Coveney said it is too late anyway to do so ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline for the UK to leave.

"Even if we wanted to do that, which we don't, we can't do it in six or 10 weeks," he said. While the EU is open to exploring alternative arrangements, they must achieve the same objectives as the backstop, he said.

The EU regards the backstop, a fallback mechanism meant to keep the Irish border free of checks after Brexit, as vital to protecting its single market and ensuring the peace process in Northern Ireland isn't jeopardised. But it's despised by Brexiteers, who say it will keep the UK tied to the bloc long after it's supposed to have left.

Queen approves Johnson suspension request

The Queen approved Boris Johnson's request for Parliament to be suspended "on a day no earlier than Monday the 9th day of September and no later than Thursday the 12th day of September 2019 to Monday the 14th day of October 2019".

The privy council - senior politicians who advise the monarch - issued a statement saying the Queen had given her approval after she met with Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, Chief Whip Mark Spencer and Leader of the House of Lords Natalie Evans at her holiday home in Scotland.

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