'What a load of nonsense': Boris Johnson rubbishes claims prorogation is undemocratic

Boris Johnson has dismissed as a "load of nonsense" accusations that suspending Parliament is "anti-democratic".

Speaking on a visit to a London primary school, the prime minister claimed the country needs a Queen's Speech, and "you always have a recess before a Queen's Speech".

"And anybody who says it's all - this stuff about it being anti-democratic - I mean donnez-moi un break - what a load of nonsense," he added.

Mr Johnson said MPs were offered a "democratic moment" on Monday night, in the form of an election, but he said Labour "mysteriously" decided not to go for it.

Mr Johnson also held talks in Downing Street with DUP leader Arlene Foster and her party's Westminster leader Nigel Dodds.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told a Westminster briefing that the meeting would include discussion on a "range of subjects including Brexit".

In a statement released after the meeting, DUP leader Ms Foster said the prime minister reiterated his "commitment to securing a deal which works for the entire United Kingdom as well as our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland."

She added: "We want to see the referendum result implemented. Those blocking Brexit are causing uncertainty but more worrying they are damaging democracy by ignoring the United Kingdom's decision."

The DUP pair left Number 10 after more than an hour inside, with Mr Dodds telling reporters: "It was a very good meeting as always."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he and opposition MPs turned down Mr Johnson's early general election attempts because they were "traps laid by this prime minister".

Then on Tuesday morning he told trade union members the Labour Party is "not afraid" to fight a general election and threatened Mr Johnson with the "biggest people-powered campaign we've ever seen".

Opposition MPs staged a protest in the House of Commons as the ceremony to trigger the five-week suspension of Parliament descended into chaos.

Signs with “silenced” written on them were held by some Labour MPs, including Clive Lewis.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle appeared to try to hold on to Speaker John Bercow at the point he was requested to lead MPs to the Lords, with doorkeepers intervening.

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.

Before walking to the Lords, Mr Bercow said of the protest: “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.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gives a speech at the TUC Congress in Brighton. Credit: PA

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.”

The unusually long period between the ceremony of prorogation and the Queen’s Speech on October 14 has provoked warnings about a lack of time to deal with Brexit matters ahead of the next deadline on October 31.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had hoped to call a general election for mid-October but failed twice to secure enough support from MPs for his idea.

Instead, MPs approved legislation which is designed to stop the Government from forcing through a no-deal Brexit at the end of next month – something they feared the lengthy prorogation could have aided.

Unlike during a normal recess, recalling MPs in the event of an emergency is very difficult and would require a Royal Warrant.

The prorogation ceremony began in a bad-tempered manner with some MPs shouting “no” when Black Rod Sarah Clarke, the senior House of Lords officer tasked with leading the ceremony, asked MPs to visit the Lords.

Meanwhile, the opposition benches in the Lords were empty as both Labour and Liberal Democrat peers boycotted the ceremony in protest at the suspension of Parliament.

In London Mr Johnson took his seat among Year Four pupils at Pimlico Primary School in south-west London as he pledged thousands of new free school places as part of an education drive.

Up to 30 new free schools could be established as part of the latest round of applications.

The classics graduate warned children against getting drunk at university and told them he had "frittered too much time" while at Oxford.

Mr Johnson said: "My strong advice is don't waste your time at university."Don't get drunk ... I frittered too much time at university I'm afraid to say."

He went on to tell the children about Athens, Sparta, and Brexit.