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  1. ITV Report

Proroguing Parliament: What does it mean?

Boris Johnson's government is expected to ask the Queen to suspend parliament just weeks before the Brexit deadline on October 31. Credit: PA

Parliament has been prorogued, with the suspension starting in the early hours of the morning on Tuesday, September 10.

The suspension is intended for the Government to hold a Queen's Speech on October 14.

Parliament will therefore be unable to sit for most of September and half of October, limiting the amount of time MPs can debate before the Brexit deadline of October 31.

Boris Johnson could try to suspend Parliament to force a no-deal Brexit through. Credit: PA

What exactly does the term 'prorogation' mean?

Until recently only political and lexical experts will have heard the term but since Theresa May announced her resignation 'prorogation' has become a Brexit buzzword.

The official definition of the word, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is: "(To) discontinue a session of (a Parliament or other legislative assembly) without dissolving it."

In essence the term describes the process of shutting down Parliament.

It is the formal name given to the period between the end of a session of Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session, according to parliament.uk.

A prorogation usually takes the form of an announcement, on behalf of the Queen, read in the House of Lords. The last time a monarch performed the duty herself was when Queen Victoria did so in 1854.

Queen Elizabeth II has never prorogued Parliament herself. Instead a speech is read on her behalf in the House of Lords. Credit: PA

The last time Parliament was prorogued was in April 2017 when Theresa May announced she would hold a general election.

The current Parliamentary session is the longest sitting since the English Civil War in the mid-1600s, but in a more normal political climate a prorogation happens once a year.

Usually a prorogation takes place every spring, when Parliament is dissolved before it resumes again after a break.

A regular prorogation isn't a cause for contention but the kind being talked about by Boris Johnson supporters is highly controversial.

  • What happened last time Parliament was prorogued against its will?

Parliament was prorogued in 1948 - without any wars being caused - but it was for a much less divisive issue.

In June, Theresa May’s former legislative adviser Nikki da Costa, explained in the Daily Telegraph that back in '48 "a new Parliament Bill to reduce the power of the Lords was being blocked by peers.

"But powers … which would allow the government to override the Lords could only be used if there had been a delay over three ‘sessions.’

"A special short session of 10 days was therefore arranged."

Parliament was prorogued in 1948 in order to reduce the power of the Lords. Credit: PA

Back in the times of Oliver Cromwell, however, a civil war between Royalists and Parliamentarians did follow a prorogation.

First Charles I prorogued Parliament and ruled the country as an executive monarch before Cromwell did the same by sending all politicians home and taking charge for himself, according to parliament.uk.

He ruled as Lord Protector and declared war on the Royalists in the English Civil War which lasted from 1642 to 1651.

The Parliamentarians won, Charles I was beheaded in 1649 and his son, Charles II, was made a constitutional monarch in 1660.

King Charles I (L) of the Royalists was defeated by Oliver Cromwell of the Parliamentarians. Credit: PA
  • How long will Parliament be prorogued for?

Prorogation normally tends to be for a short amount of time – no longer than two weeks, with it leading to either a general election or the start of a new Parliamentary session.

However this time Parliament will be away for five weeks, with party conferences taking place during the suspension, with MPs due to return for the Queen’s Speech on October 15.

Parliament had been due to break for its conference recess for at least two weeks in the lead up to October, even before the news of the prorogation broke, with Number 10 arguing that MPs are only losing an extra four sitting days in total.