A fortnight ago, a poll for Property Notify readers was set up, in response to the developments in Westminster. The government appeared set to prorogue Parliament, so we decided to ask whether readers supported this course of action.
Much has unfolded since the poll was presented, and we can now reveal that a majority of Property Notify readers told us they supported Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament, ahead of the Queen’s Speech.
Our poll revealed that 59 per cent of Property Notify readers supported the government’s prorogation, which has since come to pass, as Parliament now awaits a new Queen’s Speech in mid-October. The remaining 41 per cent did not believe it was the right course of action, indicating that opposition to the move is still sizable.
The purpose of prorogation in the current context is officially intended to kick-start a new sitting of Parliament, once a new list of future government policies is unveiled, but critics of prorogation argue that the government has used it as a device to limit the debate of Brexit.
Legal wrangling over prorogation
Prorogation of Parliament commenced on Monday 9th September, after an unprecedented sequence of events in Westminster. On Wednesday 11th September, the Scottish Court of Session ruled that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful, despite the High Court in London ruling that the prorogation was lawful on Thursday 5th September.
The matter is expected to be taken to the Supreme Court, on Tuesday 17th September. If the Supreme Court should find the prorogation unlawful, Parliament is likely to be recalled, allowing MPs more time to propose motions and debate Brexit further.
Prorogation has been used ahead of past Queen’s Speeches, but the current one, expected to last five weeks, is anomalous, owing to its greater length compared to previous ones.
Political deadlock in Westminster
The government of Boris Johnson started the month with a majority of one seat.
However, following a series of votes, including a defeated motion to bring about a snap general election, as proposed by the government, followed by a successful opposition-led proposal to block a no-deal Brexit, over 20 Conservative MPs had the whip withdrawn.
As a result, the government has no working majority, and these former Conservative MPs are now sitting as independents. In order to call a snap election, Boris Johnson was required to seek approval from two-thirds of MPs, but a large number of opposition MPs abstained on the crucial votes, blocking his motion.
The opposition, including Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, reasoned that a general election would not be permissible if used as a means of delivering a no-deal Brexit, something they are opposed to.
The government’s official policy is to deliver Brexit with a ratified withdrawal agreement, but concern has grown among some in recent days that no progress has been made over the last two months, in order to ensure a deal is in place before the UK’s expected departure date from the EU, on 31st October.
At present, the government is effectively trapped in power, unable to legislate or trigger a general election, extending the period of political deadlock, which has been a part of British politics for over three years now.