NEWS
10/09/2019 06:41 BST | Updated 10/09/2019 12:32 BST

Parliament Prorogued: Scuffles And Bursts Of Song As MPs Protest Shutdown

"This is not a standard or normal prorogation," Speaker John Bercow said, as Labour MPs held up signs saying "silenced".

Parliament has broken up for five weeks following a prorogation ceremony interrupted by protests from opposition MPs.

Shouts of “shame on you” could be heard as Conservative MPs left the Commons to head to the House of Lords for the prorogation ceremony in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Before walking to the Lords, Speaker John Bercow said of the protest: “I recognise that our presence is desired by our Majesty the Queen’s Commissioners. They are doing what they believe to be right and I recognise my role in this matter.”

Bercow added: “I’m perfectly happy to play my part, but I do want to make the point that this is not a standard or normal prorogation.”

He continued: “It’s one of the longest for decades and it represents an act of executive fiat.”

Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson shouted at the Speaker and left the chamber.

In response, Bercow said: “I don’t care if you don’t like it. I require no response from you young man. I require no response from you. Get out man, you will not be missed.”

Signs with “silenced” written on them were held by some Labour MPs, including Clive Lewis (Norwich South).

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, appeared to try to hold on to Bercow at the point he was requested to lead MPs to the Lords, with doorkeepers intervening.

One of the “silenced” signs was left in Bercow’s chair after he had departed.

 

 

Bercow was applauded by opposition MPs after he returned from the Lords.

“I feel much more at home here,” he said.

One MP jokingly asked if he had been offered a peerage.

Bercow replied: “Who said it has been offered?” He then invited MPs to shake his hand once prorogation had been confirmed.

The opposition benches in the House of Lords were empty as both Labour and Liberal Democrat peers boycotted the ceremony in protest at the suspension of parliament.

It was left to Tory leader in the Lords Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, the Lord Speaker Lord Fowler and convener of the independent crossbenchers Lord Hope of Craighead to formally receive the Commons Speaker and MPs. 

Reading out the Queen’s Address, Lady Evans said: “My Lords, and members of the House of Commons, we are commanded to deliver to you Her Majesty’s speech in Her Majesty’s own words.

“My Lords and members of the House of Commons. My legislative programme has laid the foundation for the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union while pursuing wide-ranging domestic reform.

“Landmark legislation was passed and has now been commenced to repeal the European Communities Act.

“Other laws are in place to enable the United Kingdom’s smooth exit from the European Union, establishing new arrangements on international sanctions, nuclear safeguards, customs and reciprocal healthcare arrangements.

“Close to 600 statutory instruments have been made to ensure a functioning statute book following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.”

The unusually long period between the ceremony of prorogation and the Queen’s Speech on October 14 has provoked warnings about a lack of time to deal with Brexit matters ahead of the next deadline on October 31.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had hoped to call a general election for mid-October but failed twice to secure enough support from MPs for his idea.

Instead, MPs approved legislation which is designed to stop the government from forcing through a no-deal Brexit at the end of next month - something they feared the lengthy prorogation could have aided.

Unlike during a normal recess, recalling MPs in the event of an emergency is very difficult and would require a Royal Warrant.

The prorogation ceremony began in a bad-tempered manner with some MPs shouting “no” when Black Rod Sarah Clarke, the senior House of Lords officer tasked with leading the ceremony, asked MPs to visit the Lords.

With the ceremony ongoing in the Lords, a sing-off emerged in the Commons.

SNP MPs began singing Scots Wha Hae - considered by the party to be the alternative national anthem - on the Commons benches.

Labour MPs also sang the Red Flag and Jerusalem before SNP MP Gavin Newlands jokingly appealed to Conservative MPs to sing - with no response.

The SNP also sang Flower of Scotland while Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru offered Bread of Heaven.

Ode to Joy, recognised as an EU anthem, was also hummed by some MPs.