Corbyn vows to stop Johnson's 'smash-and-grab raid' of UK democracy

The opposition Labour Party said on Thursday it would trigger an emergency debate in parliament next week to try to stop Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking Britain out of the European Union without a withdrawal deal.

More than three years after the country voted in a referendum to leave the bloc, the United Kingdom is heading towards its gravest constitutional crisis in decades and a showdown with the EU over Brexit, which is due to take place in just over two months time.

In his boldest step since becoming Prime Minister last month, Johnson enraged opponents of a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday by using a parliamentary mechanism to order the suspension of parliament for almost a month.

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says they will try to stop the planned extended shutdown as soon as they returned to Westminster after their summer break.

Corbyn said Johnson's move to suspend parliament for almost a month was a "smash-and-grab raid" against Britain's democracy.

"What we're going to do is try to politically stop him on Tuesday with a parliamentary process in order to legislate to prevent a no deal Brexit and also to try and prevent him shutting down Parliament during this utterly crucial period," Corbyn told reporters.

"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."

Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn. Photo credit: Reuters

A petition opposing the decision to suspend parliament for a month gained more than a million signatures less than 24 hours after Johnson's announcement.

Johnson set October 14 for the formal state opening of a new session of parliament that is preceded by a suspension of the House of Commons, effectively shutting parliament from mid-September and limiting its ability to delay Brexit.

The petition on the British parliament's website reached nearly 1,450,000 signatures by 1500 GMT on Thursday, easily exceeding the threshold of 100,000 which triggers a largely symbolic parliamentary debate.

A petition earlier this year calling for Brexit to be stopped gained a record 6.1 million signatures.

But this did nothing to shift the government's view that it needs to implement the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which Britons voted to leave the EU by a margin of 17.4 million to 16.1 million.

A YouGov opinion poll published earlier on Wednesday showed Britons opposed Johnson's plan to 'prorogue' or suspend parliament by a margin of 47 percent to 27 percent, with 26 percent of the 5,734 adults surveyed not expressing a view.