POLITICS
29/08/2019 12:55 BST | Updated 29/08/2019 15:42 BST

What Ministers Said About Suspending Parliament In The Past - And What They Say Now Johnson Has Done It

Matt Hancock, Amber Rudd, Sajid Javid and more said it was "trashing democracy" and "outrageous". Not now, though.

Trust in politicians is at an all-time low ... and sometimes it’s not difficult to understand why. 

This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the decision to suspend parliament, despite having repeatedly said he was “not attracted” to such “arcane” procedures. 

The move has sparked protests and widespread fear that the country is hurtling towards a no-deal Brexit and that MPs will be left with no time to hold Johnson to account before October 31. 

Cabinet ministers now tasked with defending Johnson are avoiding journalists and TV cameras as they too are being reminded of how vehemently they opposed shutting down parliament in the past. 

Here’s what they said back then, and what they say now (if anything). 

PA Wire/PA Images
Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, Works and Pensions Secretary and Minister for Women Amber Rudd, and Lee Cain (back right) as the PM holds his first Cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London.

Matt Hancock

The health secretary kept his job in the cabinet after having gone up against Johnson in the race for the Conservative leadership. 

During the contest Hancock made clear his opposition to suspending parliament, saying: “And then there is this idea from some people, you might have heard them, there is this idea from some people, that to deliver Brexit, we should suspend our parliamentary democracy. 

That we should prorogue parliament. But that goes against everything that those men who waded onto those beaches fought and died for. And I will not have it.” 

He went so far as to write to Johnson, and the numerous other contenders for the top job, calling on them to rule out prorogation. 

On Thursday, after the Queen consented to the government’s request to prorogue parliament between September 9 and October 14, Hancock ignored questions from an ITV journalist about his past statements. 

ITN
Health Secretary Matt Hancock ignored reporters' questions over the prorogation of Parliament, after previous stating that it "goes against everything those men who waded onto those beaches fought and died for".

Amber Rudd

The work and pensions secretary described the prospect of shutting down parliament “absolutely outrageous” and “ridiculous” when she gave an interview to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge in June. 

“The idea of leaving the EU to take back more control into parliament and to consider the idea of closing parliament to do that is the most extraordinary idea I’ve ever heard,” she said.

“It is a ridiculous suggestion to consider proroguing parliament. For a start it would involve approaching the Queen and nobody should consider doing that,” she said 

“I’m going to continue to do my job as secretary of state for work and pensions,” she said in response to one of a number of questions about the suspension move.

Sajid Javid

During his campaign to be Tory leader, the chancellor made a series of strong statements on proroguing parliament, including: “You don’t deliver on democracy by trashing democracy ... we are not selecting a dictator of our country.” 

Since being promoted from home secretary to chancellor, Javid has been tight-lipped and has not yet made any statement. 

Michael Gove

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove previously told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “I think [suspending parliament] will be wrong for many reasons. I think it would not be true to the best traditions of British democracy.” 

Speaking exclusively to the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, this week Gove had slightly changed his tune.

Defending Johnson, he said the prorogation was “certainly not” an attempt to stop MPs blocking the UK leaving the EU without a deal and repeated the party line that Johnson wanted to set out a new domestic agenda.

Liz Truss

PA Wire/PA Images
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss in Downing Street in London.

The trade secretary, who was an early supporter of Johnson’s bid to replace Theresa May, told BBC’s Newsnight in June that suspending parliament was an “archaic manoeuvre” which the future PM had rejected. 

“He wants to bring parliament with him,” she said. She was asked: “He’s definitely ruling out proroguing or suspending parliament, is that right?” Her answer was: “That’s right.” 

She has not made a public statement since the news broke. 

Nicky Morgan

PA Wire/PA Images
Newly installed Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nicky Morgan leaves 10 Downing Street, London, after a cabinet meeting.

As a panellist on BBC One’s Question Time in June, Morgan said that proroguing parliament was “clearly a mad suggestion”.

“You cannot say you are going to take back control … and then go: ‘Oh, by the way, we are just going to shut parliament down for a couple of months, so we are just going to drift out on a no deal’,” she said.

Now culture secretary, Morgan has avoided questions on the issue. 

Andrea Leadsom  

ITN
Business Secretary and former leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom says it is 'not unusual' for Parliament to be prorogued and it is necessary to end the longest Parliamentary session in 400 years so the government can crack on with an "amazing" domestic agenda.

In July, the business secretary was asked if she would be prepared to suspend parliament to ensure a no-deal Brexit.

Leadsom, who was at the time running to be Tory leader, said: “No I don’t believe I would and I don’t believe it would happen.”

Today, she said it is “not unusual” for parliament to be prorogued and that Johnson should be able to put forward his “amazing” domestic agenda.

Labour’s shadow minister for the Cabinet Office said those who spoke out strongly against suspending parliament should now “do the decent thing and resign”. 

“It appears these Tory ministers have got short memories,” he said, adding: How can the public trust such slippery manoeuvres from these ministers? Put simply they cannot.”