Is Johnson destroying British democracy?

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is suspending Parliament for five weeks. The Queen has approved the prorogation, as the closure of parliament is called, from 3 September to 14 October. This leaves very little time for MPs to pass a law against a no-deal Brexit.

Open/close all quotes
Le Figaro (FR) /

Parliament is not everything

British historian Robert Tombs sides with Boris Johnson in Le Figaro:

“It's true that England was the cradle of parliamentary democracy, but it must not be forgotten that in that term the word 'democracy' is just as important as 'parliamentary'. ... Let's not forget the Cromwell era! Back then Parliament fell into the hands of a religious minority of radical Puritans. It was completely detached from the people. Cromwell then seized power in the name of God. Today some people would like to seize power in the name of the European Union. ... Parliament has not always been the guarantor of democracy. In fact, it has often been very slow to accept democratic reforms.”

El País (ES) /

Johnson will suffer the same fate as Salvini

A look at the situation in Italy could make Johnson rethink his course, El País comments:

“While this despot is just beginning to act as such, elsewhere another one has abandoned his efforts, at least for the time being. Matteo Salvini put everything on one card and lost. ... Salvini's sudden removal proves that extreme disloyalty does not go down well with the people, that a failed revolution is cruel to the rebel, and that the appeal of one-man authoritarianism is limited. And that the Eurosceptic imitators of Brexit have less room in Europe than we thought.”

Berlingske (DK) /

A dangerous putsch attempt

Johnson is damaging the proud political traditions of his country, an angry Berlingske rails:

“To curb the power of the people's representatives is certainly no democratic solution for the gordian knot of Brexit. Johnson should instead have concentrated on reaching a new deal for Brexit and presenting the result to parliament or the electorate. By trying to force through a solution with this putsch he is jeopardising British democracy. ... And setting a terrible precedent for authoritarian politicians. If the prime minister of the world's oldest democracy can shut down an awkward parliament, how can we criticise Putin or Orbán if they suddenly decide to do the same?”

Ethnos (GR) /

Johnson just keeping to his word

This latest manoeuvre on Johnson's part shouldn't surprise anyone, Ethnos comments:

“There is no 'coup', no 'scandal', no 'deviation'. What is legal doesn't necessarily have to be morally justifiable. And if Johnson has decided to shut down parliament he is doing it because the British constitution allows him to. ... As a diehard Eurosceptic (some even attribute his Euroscepticism to the ugly years of his childhood in Brussels as the son of a 'Eurocrat') Johnson has always said that he would deliver a hard Brexit, which is what he has practically done now, or at least he's come dangerously close.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Escalation to secure election victory

The prime minister's main goal with this ploy is to position himself as favourably as possible for new elections, The Guardian explains:

“Johnson has deliberately left enough time for parliament to seize control again. That's because Johnson's real objective is to use Brexit to win a general election, rather than use a general election to secure Brexit. By forcing the hands of his opponents, he has defined the terrain for a 'people versus parliament' election. Expect him to run on 'Back Boris, Take Back Britain'. He will say that the only way to definitely leave on 31 October is to give him a parliamentary majority to do so.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Vote of no confidence is the only option

What can be done to stop this man? asks El Periodico de Catalunya:

“The conservative politician is convinced that his political survival depends on the success of his no-deal Brexit project. ... It is tempting to think that Johnson has remained loyal to the populist within him. He is pitting the concept of 'the people', expressed in the 2016 referendum, against the parliamentary majority and the national sovereignty it embodies, and which the Brexiteers want to win back. ... Or he is the pirate we witnessed him as in the referendum, willing to pay any price to achieve his goal. The remaining viable alternatives, such as a sweeping vote of no confidence, will no doubt have more supporters in parliament today than they did yesterday.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Clarity at last in Britain

Johnson's plan to provoke new elections that would make him prime minister after Brexit could work, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung believes.

“Johnson's dramatic power galloping has impressed a lot of people. Whether he is really acting unconstitutionally will keep the lawyers busy for years, the voters less so. But one thing is certain: after three years of exhausting Brexit confusion he is creating clarity at last and opening a new chapter. Many people are desperate to see a line drawn under the Brexit drama. The opposition, on the other hand, is still divided and unable to agree on a convincing plan to leave the EU. And the prospect of Brexit squabbling ad nauseam is hardly an attractive alternative.”