Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II gave final approval Monday to a bill that blocks Prime Minister Boris Johnson from completing the departure from the European Union without a sanctioned agreement — just hours before Parliament was set to enter a period of suspension that will last until nearly the deadline.
The queen approved the law by Royal Assent, a means by which a British monarch can authorize legislation. Her approval came just hours before Johnson’s ordered suspension for Parliament was to begin. Lawmakers won’t return until Oct. 14.
Some critics had said Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament was an effort to pre-empt legislation to block Britain from leaving on Oct. 31 without an agreement.
Due to the hiatus, the government will lose at least nine business days. The prorogation of Parliament is legal and represents the longest such period in modern history.
Commons speaker John Bercow said in an emotional announcement Monday he will step down by Oct. 31, at the latest. He said he will stay until the deadline to minimize disruption.
“I wish my successor the very best fortune in standing up for the rights of [members of Parliament] individually and for parliament institutionally,” Bercow said.
Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the British democracy is stronger because of Bercow’s “superb” record.
“As somebody who aspires to hold executive office, I like the idea of a powerful parliament holding the executive to account,” he said. “It’s something I’ve spent the last 35 years doing myself.”
Earlier Monday, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned Johnson against leaving without a deal — saying there would be no “clean break.” He added that he favors the withdrawal agreement presented by former Prime Minister Theresa May, which was ratified by all EU states except Britain.
“If there is no deal, I believe that’s possible, it will cause severe disruption for British and Irish people alike,” Varadkar said. “We will have to get back to the negotiating table. When we do, the first and only items on the agenda will be citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border.”
Last week, Parliament voted on legislation to block a no-deal exit, and Conservative Party lawmakers who voted for the bill were expelled by Johnson.