Victoria Atkins defends ‘suspension’ of Parliament

Victoria Atkins MP speaking in the House of Commons.
Victoria Atkins MP speaking in the House of Commons.

Victoria Atkins MP has defended Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend – or ‘prorogue’ – Parliament from next week, stating that the Government’s ‘overriding objective’ must be to deliver Brexit.

As reported in the national press last week, the prime minister obtained the Queen’s approval to end the current parliamentary session, meaning that Parliament will not sit between next week and mid-October.

Mr Johnson has claimed that the move is intended to allow for a new Queen’s Speech to be introduced next month, with fresh policies on areas such as the NHS and crime, but opponents have suggested that he is simply trying to limit MPs’ chances to debate Brexit and prevent a ‘no-deal’ departure ahead of the planned exit date on October 31.

Over 1.7 million people (including 1,350 from the Louth and Horncastle constituency) have signed a petition demanding that the suspension of Parliament should not take place unless an extension to the Brexit deadline has first been agreed.

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised over the implications of prorogation on the Domestic Abuse Bill, which was introduced to the House of Commons by Ms Atkins just seven weeks ago.

The progress of the Bill is expected to be lost when Parliament is suspended, unless special provisions are put in place.

This week, Ms Atkins, a Home Office minister, defended the decision to suspend Parliament when approached by the Leader.

Ms Atkins said: “We must leave the EU. I acknowledge the concerns of some constituents in relation to the prorogation of Parliament but the overriding objective of this Government must be to deliver what a majority of my constituents have voted for, namely to leave the EU.

“I have voted consistently to honour the result of the referendum and will continue to do all I can to deliver Brexit.”

Ms Atkins’ statement did not address the concerns raised regarding the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill.

During Theresa May’s tenure as prime minister, Ms Atkins consistently supported the prime minister’s ‘Brexit deal’ and voted for it on all three occasions in Parliament. The failure to pass the deal on all three occasions ultimately led to Theresa May’s downfall as prime minister.

During the indicative votes on Brexit back in March, Ms Atkins voted against all alternative options to Theresa May’s deal – including a further referendum, revoking Article 50, and indeed, against a ‘no-deal’ departure on the previous deadline of April 12.

However, Ms Atkins has also consistently voted to keep a no-deal Brexit ‘on the table’ as part of the negotiations with the EU.

• At the time of going to press (Tuesday lunchtime), it remains to be seen whether attempts by opposition and rebel MPs will succeed in legislating to prevent a potential no-deal Brexit. The planned suspension of Parliament is also being challenged in the courts this week.