Furious lawmakers spar with government after suspension

LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers returned to the House of Commons on Wednesday, venting their pent-up anger over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s failed attempt to suspend Parliament and warning that democracy itself is under threat from the government.

Senior officials in Johnson’s government sparred with lawmakers of all parties on their first day back after Britain’s Supreme Court decision declared that the prime minister’s move to suspend the body for five weeks was illegal because it thwarted debate over Brexit.

Johnson planned to address Parliament later in the day after returning in haste from the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Johnson remains on a collision course with Parliament over his determination to pull Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a withdrawal agreement.

Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek a Brexit extension if there is no deal, but Johnson has said he won’t do that under any circumstances.

Johnson has begun to position himself as the champion of the people facing a recalcitrant establishment bent on frustrating the 2016 Brexit vote.

Johnson’s attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, called Parliament a “disgrace” and tried to bait it into voting for a no-confidence motion on Johnson’s government and triggering an early election. He said Parliament would be “too cowardly” to do that.

“This Parliament should have the courage to face the electorate, but it won’t, because so many of them are really all about preventing us leaving the European Union,” Cox told lawmakers. “But the time is coming. The time is coming, Mr. Speaker, when even these turkeys won’t be able to prevent Christmas.”

Opposition Labour Party lawmaker Barry Sheerman accused Cox of having “no shame at all.” Former Cabinet minister Amber Rudd urged Cox to “cease this language of pitting Parliament against the people.”

“This Parliament was elected in 2017. It reflects the divisions in this country, the divisions in our communities and the divisions in our families,” Rudd said.

After the court ruling Tuesday, Johnson had brushed aside questions about whether he would resign. He said he “strongly” disagreed with the court decision and even suggested he might try to suspend Parliament for a second time.

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