British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces accusations of triggering the biggest constitutional crisis in decades after he announced that parliament would be suspended for around a month shortly before the country is due to leave the European Union. While Johnson says it is customary for parliament to be suspended – or “prorogued” – before a government outlines its new policy priorities in a Queen’s Speech, his opponents say the timing and length of the suspension is designed to sideline parliament in the countdown to Brexit. Britain has an uncodified constitution, meaning it is largely upheld through convention and precedent. The constitution has changed dramatically down the centuries, with monarchs steadily surrendering their once-vast powers to the government and prime minister of the day. Johnson required Queen Elizabeth’s formal consent to suspend parliament but she was equally required, by custom, to grant it. Following is a timeline of some major constitutional crises over the last eight centuries that have pitted the executive power – originally the crown and later governments acting in its name – against the legislative arm. WHOSE CONSTITUTION? ENGLAND, BRITAIN AND THE UK The story begins in the origins of England’s constitution. England annexed the principality of Wales in the 1530s and then forged the Acts of Union with Scotland in 1707 to create Great Britain. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was formed in 1801 after the Acts of Union with Ireland, before the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922 left the “UK”
European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s demands to drop the Brexit backstop came with no “realistic alternatives” and amounted to seeking a return to controls along the sensitive Irish border. Tusk was responding to a letter in which Johnson said the backstop – an insurance policy to preserve open borders on the island of Ireland after Britain leaves the European Union – must be erased for Britain to ratify its stalled EU divorce treaty. “The backstop is an insurance to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland unless and until an alternative is found,” Donald Tusk said on Twitter. “Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support re-establishing a border. Even if they do not admit it.” His comments were echoed by the EU’s executive European Commission, which said the backstop was the only way agreed so far by the bloc and Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May that would avoid the reimposition of full Irish border controls. “The letter does not provide a legal operational solution to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland,” Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud told a news briefing. “Our position on the backstop is well known…It is the only means identified so far by both parties to honour this commitment.” The EU wants to ensure that its only land border with the United Kingdom after Brexit does not become a back door for goods to enter the EU’s single
Theresa May said: “A further idea that has emerged, and it is an idea at this stage, is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months, and it would only be a matter months. But the point is this is not expected to be used because we are working to ensure that we have that future relationship in place by the end of December 2020.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday she still believes a Brexit deal is “achievable”, despite talks with the European Union becoming deadlocked on the issue of the Irish border.
“We cannot let this disagreement derail the prospects of a good deal, and leave us with the ‘no deal’ outcome that no-one wants,” she told MPs in the House of Commons.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I continue to believe that a negotiated deal is the best outcome for the UK and for the EU. I continue to believe that such a deal is achievable.”
“The British people decided to leave in a (2016) referendum, we respect that. But this choice cannot lead to the EU going bust, unravelling,” Nathalie Loiseau, minister for European affairs, told France Info radio.
“That’s the message we have tried to send for several months now to our British counterparts, who may have thought we were going to say ‘yes’ to whatever deal they came up with.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I get a little bit irritated, but this debate is not about my future. This debate is about the future of the people of the U.K. and the future of the United Kingdom. That’s what I’m focused on, and that’s what we should all be focused on.”
Theresa May criticized former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who resigned in July to protest her plan to keep some close ties to the EU after Brexit.
“If we come out of conference with her hoping to get Chequers through on the back of Labour votes, I think the EU negotiators would probably understand that if that were done, the Tory party would suffer the catastrophic split which thus far we have managed to avoid,” Steve Baker, a former junior Brexit minister was quoted as saying.