From the Viewsroom

A ‘coup’ against democracy

Dakshiani Palicha | Updated on September 04, 2019 Published on September 04, 2019

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson   -  AFP

Boris Johnson joins the list of anti-democratic world leaders

In a new twist to the Brexit imbroglio, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has created what his detractors have termed a “constitutional crisis” and “death of democracy”. Johnson asked the Queen late in August to suspend Parliament for five weeks before the October 31 deadline for Britain to leave the European Union. Johnson’s move — which was approved by the Queen — shocked the lawmakers and public.

Labelling the move as a “constitutional crisis” is interesting. It is noteworthy that the UK does not have a single written constitution. Governance runs on compatibility with the law and political precedent. On both these counts, challenging the prorogation is difficult, given that it is in line with convention for the Queen to suspend Parliament before a new legislative agenda is announced, on advice from the PM.

Constitutional or not, there’s a crisis here. Johnson’s argument that proroguing Parliament showed the UK’s commitment to leaving the EU, with or without a deal, is not convincing. His move actually looks like a populist, knee-jerk reaction to the growing dissent among MPs and opposition towards a ‘no deal’ Brexit. In fact, by proroguing Parliament and then attempting to dissuade ‘rebel’ party colleagues from acting against him with threats of a snap general election, he has done his image little good. He joins the growing list of world leaders who scoff at dissent rather than deal with it democratically.

Johnson’s ‘coup’ (as the move is now called by protesters), which has actually made the no-deal scenario and its resulting socio-economic fallout more probable than ever, hardly justifies denying elected representatives the chance for a legitimate debate. The MPs are preparing to use the time they have to hack together legislation to block a no deal, but Johnson may have already exhausted the confidence of the people over his capacity to handle the Brexit mess.

Dakshiani Palicha, Sub Editor

Published on September 04, 2019
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