Geoffrey Cox Triggers Backlash By Claiming Parliament Has 'No Moral Right' To Sit

Attorney general reveals the government will "shortly" ask MPs to back a snap election.

Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, has branded parliament “dead” with “no moral right” to sit and revealed the government would be asking MPs to vote for an election “shortly”

The angry outburst was delivered as MPs questioned him over the Supreme Court’s bombshell ruling that Boris Johnson had acted unlawfully when he suspended parliament. The PM is due to address the Commons later today.

According to documents leaked to Sky News, Cox told Johnson his move to prorogue parliament until October 14 was lawful.

As he was being hammered by opposition MPs for the advice, as well as for the decision to prorogue, Cox hit out at Labour for having not yet agreed to hold a general election.

“This parliament is a dead parliament. It should no longer sit. It has no moral right to sit on these green benches,” he said. “This parliament is a disgrace.”

Cox later said a motion for a general election would be “coming to the House shortly”.

He had earlier suggested the government wanted to introduce a one-line piece of legislation that triggered a general election on a specific date in order to allay opposition fears it would be held after the October 31 Brexit deadline passed.

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Jeremy Corbyn earlier today said he would not vote for an election until the EU had agreed to extend Article 50 and delay Brexit until January 2020.

Cox said: “This parliament should have the courage to face the electorate. But it won’t because so many of them are about preventing us leaving the European Union. But the time is coming when even these turkeys won’t be able to prevent Christmas.

“This parliament is as dead as dead can be.”

But the attorney general’s attack on parliament drew an immediate and angry backlash.

Labour MP Barry Sheerman shouted across the Commons: “For a man like him, a party like this, a leader like this, this prime minister, to talk about morals and morality, is a disgrace.”

And David Hanson, a former Labour minister, said the “moral right” he had to sit in the Commons was due to Theresa May’s decision to call an election. “I will represent my constituents as long as i sit in this House,” he said.

Rory Stewart, the former Tory leadership candidate who had the whip withdrawn for voting to block a no-deal Brexit, hit out on Twitter as Cox spoke.

“Parliament’s right to sit is the most fundamental right in our constitution – the right of direct election by the people.

“Our government exists and should only exist by consent of parliament. I never thought to see the attorney-general challenge the right to sit in parliament.”

Labour MP Luke Pollard added: “The mask slips from the attorney general when he says this parliament ‘has no moral right to sit’ in a bizarre, born to rule and out of touch rant.

“The attacks on our democracy continue from the Conservative Party - the fight to protect democracy is not over.”

The row came at the start of an extraordinary day in Westminster as MPs rushed back to parliament following the Supreme Court ruling.


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