Scuffles broke out in the House of Commons this morning amid unprecedented scenes as MPs protested against Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament.
As the traditional proroguing ceremony got underway to bring the session of Parliament to a close, opposition members surged towards Speaker John Bercow’s chair holding signs reading ‘Silenced’.
With the Speaker required as part of the pomp and ceremony to walk from the Commons through to the Lords, Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle threw himself across Mr Bercow in a symbolic bid to block him moving.
As Commons security grappled to drag him away, Mr Russell-Moyle fell into fellow protesting MPs, with others tumbling over amid the mayhem.
Remain supporter Mr Bercow, who hours earlier had announced he was quitting, himself delivered an impassioned speech against the suspension of Commons business, branding it ‘abnormal’ and telling one Tory who objected to his stance: ‘I couldn’t give a flying flamingo what your view is.’
Black Rod speaks to The official ceremony to suspend Parliament began early this morning and some Labour MPs staged a protest
As Black Rod said she required the presence of MPs in the Lords for the continuation of the ceremony, opposition MPs bellowed ‘No’, drowning her out before some of their number rushed towards Mr Bercow.
Mr Bercow later voiced his support for the protesting MPs, telling them they could remain in their seats rather than join him in the Lords.
‘I completely understand why very large numbers of members are much more comfortable staying where they are,’ he said. He did however fulfil his role of leading mainly Tory MPs through the central lobby as cries of ‘shame on you’ rained down from opposition benches.
A group of Labour MPs held up signs with ‘silenced’ written on them as the ceremony started
Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton Kemptown) appeared to try to hold on to Speaker John Bercow at the point he was requested to lead MPs to the Lords
Referring to the protest against prorogation taking place in the Commons by some MPs, The Speaker John Bercow said: ‘I recognise that our presence is desired by our Majesty the Queen’s Commissioners.
‘They are doing what they believe to be right and I recognise my role in this matter.’
Mr Bercow added: ‘I’m perfectly happy to play my part, but I do want to make the point that this is not a standard or normal prorogation.’
The Speaker continued: ‘It’s one of the longest for decades and it represents an act of executive fiat.’
Conservative MP for Pendle, Andrew Stephenson, shouted at the Speaker and left the Chamber.
In response, the Speaker said: ‘I don’t care if you don’t like it. I require no response from you young man. I require no response from you. Get out man, you will not be missed.’
The Speaker then directs a barb towards another MP saying: ‘I couldn’t give a flying flamingo what you think.’
Shouts of ‘shame on you’ could be heard as Government MPs left the Commons to head to the House of Lords for the prorogation ceremony.
Many of the opposition stayed behind in the Commons to sign songs with SNP MPs began singing ‘Scots Wha Hae’ – considered by the party to be the alternative national anthem.
And Labour MPs also sang the Red Flag before SNP MP Gavin Newlands jokingly appealed to Conservative MPs to sing – with no response.
The opposition benches in the House of Lords were empty as both Labour and Liberal Democrat peers boycotted the ceremony in protest at the suspension of Parliament.
It was left to Tory leader in the Lords Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, the Lord Speaker Lord Fowler and convener of the independent crossbenchers Lord Hope of Craighead to formally receive the Commons Speaker and MPs.
Speaker John Bercow was applauded by opposition MPs after he returned from the Lords.
‘I feel much more at home here,’ said Mr Bercow. One MP jokingly asked if he had been offered a peerage.
Mr Bercow replied: ‘Who said it has been offered?’
He was then seen shaking hands with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and a number of Labour MPs.
Parliament has now broken up for five weeks following a prorogation ceremony.
In the Commons early this morning, Boris Johnson (pictured) warned that Jeremy Corbyn and Remainers ‘can’t hide forever’ after his latest call for a snap election was rejected
Mr Corbyn was branded a ‘yellow belly’ by the PM during bad-tempered late night clashes in the House of Commons. The election call was backed by just 293 MPs
It comes after Boris Johnson suffered another humiliating Commons defeat after his second bid for a snap general election was rejected by MPs.
The Prime Minister said he wanted to head to the polls next month to break the political deadlock, as he accused opposition parties of making ‘outrageous excuses’ to delay.
But Labour and other opposition MPs refused to back the bid – which needed a two-thirds majority in the Commons – while the risk of a no-deal remained.
MPs voted 293 to 46, short of the 434 needed – marking the new PM’s sixth Commons defeat.
Mr Johnson said Jeremy Corbyn had become the first leader of the opposition in the country’s history to ‘show his confidence’ in the Government ‘by declining the opportunity to have an election with a view to removing the Government’.
But amid stormy scenes in the chamber Mr Corbyn said he would not let his party walk into ‘traps laid by this Prime Minister’.
‘This Government is only interested in shutting down Parliament to avoid any scrutiny,’ the Labour leader said.
The PM insisted he would not ask for another Brexit delay, despite royal assent being given to legislation requiring an extension to the UK’s EU membership unless a divorce deal is approved or Parliament agrees to leaving the EU without one by October 19.
Mr Johnson said: ‘It’s plain from the turbulent reaction of the benches opposite that they simply want another delay and I will not have that.
‘I must warn members that their behaviour in thwarting the will of the people is undermining respect for this House in the country.
‘If honourable members want a delay, the only proper way to do it is to ask permission from our masters the people, from our masters the voters.’
Following the defeat, Mr Johnson said the Government would ‘press on with negotiating a deal while preparing to leave without one’ ahead of the European Council summit on October 17.
The Prime Minister said: ‘No matter how many devices this Parliament invents to tie my hands I will try to get an agreement in the national interest.
‘This Government will not allow Brexit to be delayed any further. While the opposition run, they cannot hide forever.’
In a day of high drama in the Commons in which the Speaker John Bercow announced his intention to stand down next month, MPs also demanded the Government publish communications connected to prorogation and no-deal Brexit planning.
Former attorney general Dominic Grieve’s demand for all written and electronic contact about the temporary suspension of Parliament and Operation Yellowhammer documents since July 23 to be released was approved by 311 votes to 302, a majority of nine.
PROROGATION PROTEST: ‘IT IS NOT TYPICAL, NOT STANDARD…’
Speaker John Bercow addressed Black Rod as she requested MPs travel to the Lords for the prorogation ceremony. He told her:
‘I will treat you and what you have to say with respect and I recognise our presence is desired by Her Majesty the Queen’s Commissioners – they are doing what they believe to be right and I recognise my role in this matter.’
There was an interruption from the Conservative benches. Mr Bercow shot back:
‘I couldn’t care less whether you like it or not.’
Amid cheers from the opposition and jeers from Conservative benches, one MP hailed the Speaker as ‘Honest John. He continued:
‘I am perfectly happy, as I have advised others, to play my part but I do want to make the point that this is NOT a standard or normal prorogation.’
Another interruption from Tory Andrew Stephenson saw the MP storm out of the chamber, as Mr Bercow bellowed after him:
‘I require no response from you, young man. Get out, man! You will not be missed.’
Tory MPs, by now despairing, urged Mr Bercow: ‘Just do your job’. he replied:
‘I will play my part but this is not a normal prorogation, it is not typical, it is not standard. It is one of the longest for decades. And it represents, not just in the minds of many colleagues but huge numbers of people outside, an act of executive fiat.’
After applause from the opposition, he added:
‘…Of executive fiat and therefore I quite understand – I have already said Black Rod I respect and Black Rod is doing her duty and the Queen’s commissioners are doing their duty, and I will play my part…’
Black Rod stood stony faced, shooting daggers at Mr Bercow from her position on the floor of the House. He went on:
‘But I completely understand…’
There was then an interruption from a Tory who Mr Bercow addressed as ‘Mr Stewart. It was unclear whether it was Bob or Iain Stewart MP. Mr Bercow told him:
‘I don’t require advice on order from you, Mr Stewart! You’re a master of disorder, man! But I completely understand why very large numbers of members are much more comfortable staying where they are. Mr Stewart, if you don’t like it, you’re perfectly entitled to your view. I couldn’t give a flying flamingo what your view is. Thank you very much indeed.‘
With that, his protest over, Mr Bercow led the MPs who wanted to follow him to the Lords.