Thousands of residents sign petition demanding suspension of parliament is stopped

Thousands of residents in the borough have signed a petition demanding that a move to suspend Parliament is halted.

Thursday, 29th August 2019, 8:44 am
Updated Thursday, 29th August 2019, 9:44 am
Protestors outside the Houses of Parliament in London

It follows approval from the Queen for Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament for more than a month, from the second week of September until October 14.

The petition on Parliament's website amassed the 100,000 signatures required to be considered for debate by MPs less than three hours after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plan to prorogue Parliament in order to push through his new domestic agenda.

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In the borough's constituencies Makerfield has so far seen the biggest response, with 1,828 signatures amassed by 8.30am on Thursday.

By that time 944 people in Wigan had signed the petition along with 894 residents in Leigh.

Nationally the petition had gained 1,226,072 signatures by Thursday morning.

Any petition that secures 10,000 signatures is guaranteed a government response and 100,000 names sees the petitions committee consider it for debate by MPs.

The petition, which was created by Mark Johnston on Parliament's website, states that Parliament should not be prorogued unless there is another extension of the Brexit deadline – or the idea of leaving the European Union is scrapped altogether.

It says: "Parliament must not be prorogued or dissolved unless and until the Article 50 period has been sufficiently extended or the UK's intention to withdraw from the EU has been cancelled."

The Queen approved the plan on Wednesday afternoon, which will see Parliament prorogued no earlier than September 9 and no later than September 12, until October 14.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he "protested in the strongest possible terms on behalf of my party" in a letter to the Queen and called for a meeting alongside other opposition members of the Privy Council.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson also wrote to the monarch "to express my concern at Boris Johnson's anti-democratic plan to shut down Parliament".

Commons Speaker John Bercow – who has repeatedly angered Tory MPs over his approach to Brexit matters in the Commons – interrupted his holiday to launch a tirade against the Prime Minister.

"However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country," he said.

Mr Johnson has denied the move is to pave the way for an early general election.

But he said it would allow him to bring forward legislation for a new Withdrawal Agreement if a deal can be done with Brussels around the time of the European Council summit on October 17.

Local Labour MPs have issued strongly-worded statements slamming the prorogation.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: "This is an unprecedented power grab by the Tories, to allow them to erode workers’ rights and put our NHS up for sale without the people of Wigan having any representation.

"On their behalf, I won’t stand for it and I will be working with colleagues to ensure it doesn’t work."

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue said: "Boris Johnson’s plans to shut down parliament and avoid scrutiny is an affront to our democracy.

“My constituents, by a majority of two to one, were clear that they wanted the UK outside the EU. In all the correspondence that I have received since the referendum none have asked for Parliament to be silenced.

“To stop a no-deal we need to agree a deal. The Prime Minister’s decision has sidelined the Parliament that can give him that deal.”

Leigh MP Jo Platt said: "This is the most outrageously undemocratic and unconstitutional action in centuries from an unelected Prime Minister.

"Boris Johnson has no right to silence the other 649 MP’s by shutting down and bypassing our Parliament to force through a no-deal exit that has no mandate.

"We will not stand by as he tries to tear up our constitution and parliamentary democracy.

"Whatever your views are on Brexit remember that any bill currently making its way through parliament will be dropped and there are hundreds. This is not taking back control."

However, amid the storm of fury Conservative MP Chris Green, whose Bolton West constituency includes Atherton, rebuffed suggestions Mr Johnson's move was underhand.

Mr Green said: "The Labour Party has been calling for parliament to be prorogued and for there to be a Queen's Speech for many months. I've heard them in debates.

"Now we've finally done it they claim it's being done for the wrong reasons.

"This is the longest parliament we've had since the Civil War. The purpose of the Queen's Speech is to enable the Government to set out its future legislative agenda.

"If the opposition want to call a vote of no confidence or force a general election they have plenty of time to do it, but if they're not willing to do that they have to let the Prime Minister set out his vision for the country."