Why is parliament being prorogued again?
By Joe Harker
Remember how the government announced it was proroguing parliament and that set off a chain of events which ended up with the prime minister being found to have acted unlawfully?
Well anyway, Boris Johnson is going to prorogue parliament again, insistent that his government needs a new Queen's Speech to lay out a domestic agenda.
Is this really the moment to be taking more time off, or does it bode ill for Johnson?
Downing Street confirmed that the prime minister planned to prorogue parliament on October 8 and return to the Commons on October 14, the date his previous prorogation would have ended.
Johnson has been insistent that after the longest parliamentary session in history a prorogation is necessary and he badly needs a Queen's Speech, the given excuse for his previous five week prorogation.
This one would take up less than a week of parliament's time, though a Queen's Speech is traditionally followed by five days of debates and votes on the agenda the government wants to promote.
That would take the government up to the point where Johnson needs to have passed a Brexit deal or he must ask the EU for an extension, something he has promised he won't do.
He said he had been "consistently clear" that the UK needed a new session of parliament and wanted to set out his new raft of plans for domestic policies and the economy.
The Counter Claim:
However, if that was the case then why did Johnson's previous attempt at prorogation, unanimously ruled to be unlawful by the Supreme Court, so long if he could have done what he wanted in a smattering of days?
Johnson has only attended one PMQs since becoming prime minister, on September 4, and prorogation would allow him to dodge parliamentary scrutiny once again.
Insistent that his five week prorogation wasn't about hiding from scrutiny on Brexit but seemingly able to achieve his stated aim of a Queen's Speech and a new session of parliament with less than a week of prorogation, it increasingly looks like Johnson is desperate not to be caught in a situation where he has to answer to the House of Commons.
It may also be that he expects to lose a Queen's Speech vote, which could be the path to a motion of no confidence in his leadership. As the timetable would get so close to October 19 he might have found a way to avoid being the person who has to ask the EU for an extension.
You can't be the prime minister who broke his promise and asked for a Brexit delay if you're not the prime minister any more.
With his working Commons majority at -43 it is possible that his legislative agenda wouldn't win the support of parliament, though it might be a better pitch for an upcoming general election.
With parliament expected to return on October 14 and given the expectation of five days of debating the agenda the government wants to pursue, the crucial vote could be held on Friday October 18, the day before the prime minister must ask the EU for an extension to Article 50 if he hasn't secured a Brexit deal.
It is exceptionally rare for a prime minister to lose the vote on the legislative agenda set out by a Queen's Speech. The last prime minister to do so was Stanley Baldwin back in 1924, who immediately offered his resignation to King George V upon his defeat and Labour formed a minority government.
Johnson has lost every vote he has brought to the Commons as prime minister, it's possible that he might lose this one. It's also possible that he's not too fussed about losing it and would welcome being forced out of office if he doesn't have to ask for a Brexit delay and gets the general election he has been so desperate for.
Polling suggests the Tories are far ahead in the event of a general election but would suffer greatly if Johnson had to delay Brexit. The opposition doesn't want to move against him until he's had to go for a delay his voters will hate, but Johnson might be hoping he can dodge the responsibility and pin the blame on someone else.