Boris Johnson’s chief legal adviser branded MPs a “disgrace” and said they had “no moral right to sit” in the Commons as he sought to defend the government’s decision to suspend parliament.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the government had acted in a “lawful and constitutional” manner when drawing up plans to prorogue for five weeks despite the UK Supreme Court unanimously ruling this week that the action was unlawful.
Mr Cox then launched into a blistering attack on the current parliament, saying it was “dead” and that MPs were too “cowardly” to call a general election.
To shouts from opposition MPs, Mr Cox said: “This parliament has declined three times to pass a Withdrawal Act, to which the opposition, in relation to the Withdrawal Act, have absolutely no objection.
“Then we now have a wide number of this House setting its face against leaving at all, and when this government draws the only logical inference from that position, which is we must leave therefore without any deal at all, it still sets its face, denying the electorate a chance of having its say in how this matter should be resolved.
“This parliament is a dead parliament, it should no longer sit. It has no moral right to sit on these green benches.”
After Speaker John Bercow intervened to request order be restored, Mr Cox continued: “They don’t like to hear it, Mr Speaker. Twice they have been asked to make the electorate decide upon whether they should continue to sit in their seats while they block 17.4 million people’s vote. This is a disgrace.
“Let me tell them the truth, they can vote no confidence at any time but they are too cowardly, they could agree to a motion to allow this House to dissolve but they are too cowardly.
“This parliament should have the courage to face the electorate, but it won’t, because so many of them are really all about preventing us leaving the European Union – but the time is coming, the time is coming, Mr Speaker, when even these turkeys won’t be able to prevent Christmas.”
The Cabinet minister later suggested that a third attempt by the government to call an election “will be coming before the House shortly”.
He added that to an election would be “immoral, unparliamentary and undemocratic”.