Coronavirus: British parliament paused for a month

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The British Parliament will close its doors on Wednesday evening for almost a month. MPs are sent home a week earlier than scheduled for the Easter break due to the new coronavirus pandemic. This closure was denounced by the opposition, which deemed it “vital” for the deputies to sit during this critical period.

The government, which has a large majority, has tabled a motion in the lower house of parliament, proposing to close the institution until April 21.

For Housing Minister Robert Jenrick, when asked about the BBC, this is a “reasonable” decision given the measures taken by the government to curb the spread of the pandemic. The last sessions of questions to the government had already been carried out in a small committee, because of the number of deputies who were sick or had decided to isolate themselves but also to avoid contacts too close in the chamber of 650 deputies.

“Parliament must lead by example”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered the UK population to be confined for at least three weeks, also ordering the closure of all non-essential stores and services.

“Parliament must obviously lead by example,” said Robert Jenrick, adding that protecting staff was also important. The minister, on the other hand, declared himself “certain that the Parliament will resume its sessions after the Easter holidays”, stressing the importance of the deputies playing their role.

In France, after an interruption of ten days, the National Assembly resumed its work but with a very limited number of parliamentarians and strict health security measures.

“Closing Parliament is a problem”

“Closing Parliament for a month while we still have to put in place key measures for the self-employed or tenants is a problem,” said MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, suggesting online sessions and virtual debates.

Emergency legislation giving the government the power to force citizens to confine itself was debated in parliament this week and is expected to be finally adopted on Wednesday.

This last session on Wednesday will therefore give Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn a last chance earlier than expected to debate with Boris Johnson during the weekly question period for the Prime Minister. The new Labor leader, who suffered a historic defeat in the December legislative elections, will be announced on April 4.

Considered more centrist than the very left current leader, Keir Starmer, 57 years old and responsible for three years for the Brexit file within the opposition, is a favorite.

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