The volume and complexity of legislation that will need to be debated and passed by Britain’s House of Commons has been cited as the justification for the government calling a two-year Parliament, to start sitting Wednesday.
The change means the new Parliament won’t break in the summer, giving significantly more time for committees to work, legislation to be scrutinised, and votes taken. The decision, taken by the Prime Minister, also means there won’t be a Queen’s speech in 2018, and that the next one won’t take place until after the projected date for Brexit in Summer 2019.
Critics have pointed out cancelling next year’s Queen’s speech will also take away an opportunity for opposition MPs to vote against the government’s programme — successfully doing so would topple the government and possibly precipitate another election.
The newly installed leader of the House of Commons, prominent Brexiteer and former leadership contender for the Conservative Party Andrea Leadsom, said the two-year parliament was essential to pass what has come to be called the “Great Repeal Bill”.
Defending the decision on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, Leadsom reacted to the accusation by political editor Nick Robinson that the decision to extend parliament was extremely unusual and hadn’t happened “in other crises”, saying: “It’s not unusual — it happened in 2005 and 2010… it isn’t so much a crisis, but the weight of legislation.
“There’s a lot of legislation to be gone through, we’re leaving the EU at the end of March 2019, so having a two-year period in which to bring together parliament and government, to really make progress on legislation that is essential to make a real success of Brexit.
“It’s all a bit technical… but select committees don’t have to ditch inquiries, bills don’t have to be carried forward, there will be more parliamentary time for scrutiny.”
Leadsom also refused to accept that the decision had been taken to reduce the number of Queen’s speech votes the government had to face in the lifetime of the parliament and said it was purely about getting the work of Brexit and social reforms done.
The Queen will conduct a condensed version of the State Opening of Parliament Wednesday, in which she and the Duke of Edinburgh are expected to wear less than the usually formal gown and full military dress uniform respectively. The Queen will also not wear her full crown or travel by coach — instead opting for a hat and Royal car.
The changes are down to the timing of the snap election, which didn’t leave enough time for preparations to be made for the full ceremonial, according to the Palace. The last time a rushed opening of Parliament precipitated a dress-down affair was in 1974.