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Outrage over suspension of Parliament dismissed as 'phoney'

REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Outrage triggered by the Prime Minister's decision to suspend Parliament has been dismissed as "phoney" by Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The leading Brexiteer and Boris Johnson ally also hit back at Commons Speaker John Bercow's intervention on the decision to prorogue Parliament, saying it was "not constitutional" for him to speak out in such a way.

Mr Rees-Mogg insisted the move was not intended to limit the time available for MPs to debate Brexit but will allow the Government to tackle other issues.

He said: "I think the outrage is phoney and it is created by people who don't want us to leave the European Union and are trying very hard to overturn the referendum result and don't want the benefits of leaving the European Union."

He added: "Parliament wasn't going to be sitting for most of this time anyway. This is completely constitutional and proper."

On Mr Bercow's intervention, Mr Rees-Mogg told the BBC: "It is not constitutional for the Speaker to express his opinion without the direction of the house.

"He has had no such direction and therefore his comments were in a private capacity. They can't be as Mr Speaker."

Mr Rees-Mogg led the Government's defence of the prorogation as Labour and opposition parties vowed to press ahead with attempts to block a no-deal Brexit using legislation despite the decision to suspend Parliament for more than a month before the October 31 exit deadline.

Barry Gardiner, Labour's shadow international trade secretary, said: "It is going to be extremely difficult. That's why the government is disingenuous to say this is not about trying to stop us doing that.

"We will be seeking measures on Monday to try and have what is known as a Standing Order section 24 debate. We will seek to try and put through the appropriate legislation in this constrained timetable that the Government has now put before us.

"Downing Street is lying when it claims this is about the conference recess. If he wanted to get on with his domestic agenda, he would in fact be having a shorter period of prorogation."

Thousands of people rallied for hours outside Parliament on Wednesday night, and there were smaller demonstrations in other towns and cities as remainers reacted to the prorogation announcement.

More than one million people have also signed a petition calling on Mr Johnson not to suspend Parliament.

And some Conservative MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit joined the chorus of disapproval as lawyers prepared legal challenges to the move in English and Scottish courts.

Mr Johnson said on Wednesday he wanted to prorogue Parliament in order to bring the current record-breaking session to a close in order to bring forward his Government's new legislative agenda.

But former Tory prime minister Sir John Major was among those who attacked the move, saying he was seeking advice on its legality.

Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is expected to resign on Thursday, in part due to opposition to Mr Johnson's Brexit strategy, although sources say she will also cite personal reasons for her decision.

Mr Johnson's prorogation plan came just a day after opposition leaders struck a deal to try to block a no-deal Brexit through legislative means.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is due in Scotland to start a three-day tour on Thursday.

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