In a sign of his weakness, Boris Johnson has asked the queen for permission to suspend parliament for five weeks from early September. Johnson wants to reduce the chances of being defeated by MPs over his plans for a no-deal Brexit.
Having been elected only by Tory members, he now wants to escape further scrutiny. Protests have been called all over Britain.
The crisis has to be used to break Tory rule.
It is crucial that these protests are anti-Tory and for forcing Johnson and the government out—not protests against Brexit.
And they must be open to people who voted Leave.
It will be disastrous if Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage are allowed to pose as the friends of the people against out of touch MPs who are ignoring people’s votes.
That is why it was a mistake for Labour to line up with the Lib Dems and others earlier this week against a no-deal Brexit.
The Tories’ version of Brexit is wrong because it is racist and pro-austerity, not because it is “bad for Britain”.
Johnson wrote to MPs on Wednesday saying he wanted parliament to be suspended from “the second sitting week in September”.
MPs will then return to Westminster on 14 October. Johnson said there would then be a new Queen’s Speech, setting out what he outrageously calls a “bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit”.
There had already been plans to hold a recess during the party conference season from 12 September until 7 October. So in reality the shutdown will lead to MPs losing four to six sitting days, depending on when the suspension begins.
Parliament re-assembles on Tuesday, and there are certain to be attempts to stop the shutdown, and to block a no-deal Brexit.
Johnson’s calculation may well be that if he is defeated in a vote next week he can then call a general election on the theme of “the people versus parliament”. It would be his best hope of winning and ramming through a brutal set of moves against the working class including more tax cuts for the rich.
Therefore, protests have to be against austerity, racism, climate change and for driving the Tories out and for a general election. If they are an unprincipled mix stretching from Tories through the Lib Dems to Labour then they will play into Johnson’s hands.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Labour will do everything it can to prevent what he described as a “smash and grab” by the government.
“I have protested in the strongest possible terms on behalf of my party and all the other opposition parties that are going to join in with this in saying that suspending parliament is not acceptable,” said Corbyn
“Why is the prime minister so afraid that he has to suspend parliament in order to prevent parliament discussing these matters?”
He also demanded a meeting with the queen.
Corbyn said the first thing Labour would do was to put forward legislation to prevent the suspension, and that there would be a challenge in the form of a vote of no confidence.
Some union leaders spoke about a coup by Johnson, but put forward very few plans for action.
Mick Whelan, the general secretary of the train drivers’ trade union, Aslef, said Johnson’s decision to “try to sideline parliament in the run-up to Brexit” could cause civil unrest.
“Whatever your views on Brexit, the democratic process must underpin what is done in all our names—or civil unrest will be the result.”
GMB general secretary Tim Roache said, “For a prime minister who wanted our parliament to ‘take back control’ this is as ridiculous as it is worrying for the very foundations of our democracy.
“If Johnson is so sure he is in line with the ‘will of the people’ there’s a very easy way to find out—call an election.”
Union leaders should have been calling mass strikes and protests from the beginning of the political crisis over Brexit seven months ago when Theresa May was defeated in parliament. They need to start calling for this action now.
Stop Boris Johnson - general election now, London Tuesday 3 September, 6pm-8pm, Parliament Square, Manchester Monday 2 September, 6.30pm-8pm, Peterloo memorial, Windmill Street, Newcastle, Sat 31 Aug, 11am - 12.30, Grey's Monument, Doncaster, Sat 31 Aug, 12 noon, Mansion House, Swansea, Sat 31 Aug, 12 noon, Castle Square, Cambridge, Sat 31 Aug, 12 noon, outside The Guildhall, Market Square Liverpool, Mon 2 Sept, 6pm-8pm, St George's Hall, Southampton, Tue 3 Sep, 4.30pm-6pm, Southampton Civic Centre, Birmingham, Tue 3 Sept, 5pm, Victoria Square, Bristol, Tue 3 Sept, 5pm, The Fountains. Glasgow, Sat 31 Aug, 1.30pm-4pm, George Square. Called by the People's Assembly.