Javid defends suspension of Parliament ahead of street protests

Chancellor Sajid Javid has backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament as the move faces street protests across Britain.

Despite insisting during the Tory leadership campaign that he thought proroguing Parliament was a bad idea, Mr Javid has now insisted the Government needs time to focus on its agenda in the run-up to outlining plans in October’s Queen’s Speech.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It is quite usual this time of year, Parliament goes into what’s called a conference recess and it doesn’t usually sit for some time in September and early October.

“It’s right because we are focusing on the people’s priorities.”

Pressed on his comments during the Tory leadership battle that prorogation could be seen as “trashing” democracy, the Chancellor said: “I wasn’t being asked about a Queen’s Speech, a Government setting an agenda, that was a question around suspending Parliament for the sake of it for months on end in order to avoid debate.”

The remarks came as Mr Johnson faces cross-party opposition to his EU withdrawal moves.

Demonstrators opposed to Brexit have planned more than 30 events across the UK this weekend as Mr Johnson looks set for a torrid week in the Commons.

As he faces parliamentary attempts to legislate against a no-deal exit from the EU, or to hold a vote of confidence in his Government, the PM insisted opponents could be making the prospect of a withdrawal from the bloc without an agreement more likely.

However, Tory former PM Sir John Major said he wanted to join a legal challenge to Mr Johnson’s decision to extend the suspension of Parliament over the annual party conference season.

Sir John suggested his experience in Downing Street could assist the High Court in deciding whether Mr Johnson’s actions in proroguing Parliament are lawful.

Mr Johnson defended his decision and warned that efforts to frustrate Brexit on October 31 would be seized on by Brussels to avoid offering a good deal.

“I’m afraid that the more our friends and partners think, at the back of their mind, that Brexit could be stopped, that the UK could be kept in by Parliament, the less likely they are to give us the deal that we need,” he said.

Businesswoman Gina Miller – who previously took the Government to court over the triggering of Article 50 to start the Brexit process – said her case would be heard on September 5.

Shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti said she has been granted permission to intervene in the judicial review, as she accused the Government of operating from a “far-right play-book”.

Baroness Chakrabarti said: “I am grateful to the High Court for granting me permission to intervene in these important proceedings on behalf of the official opposition.

“Parliamentary sovereignty remains the foremost and overarching principle of our constitution.

“Whatever far-right play-book Number 10 may be copying from, the abusive shutdown of our legislature won’t wash under United Kingdom constitutional law.”

In a separate legal case in Scotland, judge Lord Doherty rejected a call for an interim interdict to block the suspension of Parliament, but said a full hearing would take place on Tuesday.

The controversy rages as the Government plans to launch a major information campaign urging people to get ready for Brexit.

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