The flurry of resignations anticipated following British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament did not happen on Wednesday, but the fallout did spill onto the streets of London, with a mass protest organised at short notice outside the Houses of Parliament.
In addition, a petition against Johnson’s plan had already exceeded one million signatures at the time of writing, as the public outrage rumbled on.
Scottish Conservative Party leader, Ruth Davidson, was the only senior Tory expected to quit her role as a result of the proroguing of Parliament, despite other senior Tories, such as Amber Rudd, previously indicating their disapproval of the controversial notion.
Rudd lamented the expected loss of Davidson in a tweet but did not comment on her own position. “Ruth Davidson is a wonderful talent and person, and we owe her a tremendous debt for turning our fortunes around in Scotland. Our Party is a better one with her in it and I hope she will continue to contribute to public life.”
Ruth Davidson is a wonderful talent and person, and we owe her a tremendous debt for turning our fortunes around in Scotland.
Our Party is a better one with her in it and I hope she will continue to contribute to public life.
— Amber Rudd MP (@AmberRuddHR) August 28, 2019
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn described the proroguing as a “constitutional outrage” while Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said Johnson’s move was “dangerous and unacceptable.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was quick to condemn the PM’s decision too. “It’s not democracy, it’s dictatorship. And if MPs don’t find a way of coming together to stop Boris Johnson in his tracks then today will go down in history as the day any semblance of UK democracy died.”
Parliament is set to be closed down from mid-September and re-opened on October 14, just over two weeks ahead of Britain’s scheduled exit from the EU.
Johnson denied he was trying to silence lawmakers. “There will be ample time in parliament for MPs to debate Brexit.”
Reactions spill over
Thousands of people rushed hurriedly to Parliament Square, at just a few hours notice, largely prompted under the social media hashtag #StopTheCoup as protesters and politicians alike compared Johnson’s actions to those of a tin-pot dictator.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott joined demonstrators who were chanting “No one voted for Boris,” in reference to the fact that just 92,153 elected him, from a UK population of 66 million. She tweeted pictures of herself along with placards lamenting the loss of democracy. She said: “Big turnout outside Parliament for the protest against @BorisJohnson shutting down Parliament #StopTheCoup.”
Fellow Labour MP Clive Lewis tweeted that he would enter parliament and not leave. “If Boris shuts down Parliament to carry out his No-Deal Brexit, I and other MPs will defend democracy. The police will have to remove us from the chamber. We will call on people to take to the streets.”
Meanwhile, a petition entitled ‘Do not prorogue Parliament‘ had reached 1.1 million signatures and was continuing to escalate into Thursday morning. The petition’s webpage added: “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.”
It is not the first of its kind. A petition earlier this year asking the British government to reverse its course on Brexit received more than 4.5 million signatures in just three days. The request appeared to fall on deaf ears, with Wednesday’s development only giving further weight to that notion.
This article was originally published on DW.