More than 1.3 million people have signed an online petition demanding that Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancel highly controversial plans to suspend, or “prorogue,” the UK Parliament.
The official petition was posted on the UK Government and Parliament Petitions page shortly after Wednesday morning’s announcement of the prorogation — which will reduce the time available to Members of Parliament to prevent a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
Parliament considers all petitions that exceed 100,000 signatures for a debate, while the government must issue a response after 10,000 signatures.
The petition demands that Johnson’s suspension of Parliament — which will go into effect just days after MPs return from summer recess on September 3 — be abandoned “unless and until the Article 50 period has been sufficiently extended or the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU has been canceled.”
Protesters also gathered outside Parliament Wednesday evening, with some storming the media pen which was cordoned off by police. Police officers at the scene told CNN that an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 protesters were present.
A group later moved to the Downing Street gates, blocking Parliament Square on their way. Some protesters were heard shouting “Boris is a liar,” and “Bring him down.”
Article 50 was invoked in March 2017 and triggered a two-year period to negotiate Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. An extension to October 31 was granted after the first exit date came and went without parliamentary approval of the withdrawal agreement negotiated by Theresa May, who stepped down as prime minister last month.
Johnson is hoping to renegotiate the deal but with London and Brussels locked in a seemingly inextricable stalemate, the country is now barreling towards a no-deal scenario, to the alarm of many British lawmakers.
On Wednesday, the Queen approved Johnson’s request to suspend Parliament. The suspension will end on October 14 for the Queen’s Speech, where the monarch will present the governmental agenda for the next parliamentary session.
Johnson’s critics have denounced the move as potentially unconstitutional and undemocratic.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, called the parliamentary suspension a “smash and grab” of British democracy, while Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow branded it a “constitutional outrage.”