Boris Johnson is facing a Brexit backlash after suspending parliament, with the fightback starting with the Tories’ Scottish leader Ruth Davidson poised to explain her shock resignation.
Her decision to quit emerged just hours after the prime minister’s big announcement. It is a huge blow for Mr Johnson and could cost him up to a dozen seats in Scotland in a general election.
Senior Tories are citing two reasons for Ms Davidson’s resignation: “family and Boris”. She recently returned to work from maternity leave after becoming the mother of a son, Finn, with her partner, Jen Wilson.
But she is a passionate Remainer and in the 2016 EU referendum campaign clashed with Mr Johnson in a TV debate. She is also a fierce opponent of a no-deal Brexit.
In the Tory leadership contest this summer she backed Sajid Javid and then Jeremy Hunt. And when she had a tense and awkward meeting with Mr Johnson after his victory she told him bluntly she could not support no deal.
Her resignation will be a massive worry for the Tories. She is credited with the Conservatives’ comeback in Scotland in the 2017 general election, when they won 13 seats which helped Theresa May cling to power.
In the House of Commons, the anti no-deal fightback against Mr Johnson’s suspension of parliament will now be accelerated, according to the former Chancellor, Philip Hammond, cheerleader of a cross-party bid to derail a no-deal Brexit.
“A number of my colleagues would have preferred to wait and move in late September,” said Mr Hammond. “That will now not be possible. We will have to try to do something when parliament returns next week.”
In a public backlash, a petition demanding that moves to suspend Parliament are halted has passed 1 million signatures.
Any petition that secures 10,000 signatures is guaranteed a Government response and 100,000 names sees the House of Commons petitions committee consider it for debate by MPs.
The petition, which was created by Mark Johnston on Parliament’s website, states that Parliament should not be prorogued unless there is another extension of the Brexit deadline or the idea of leaving the European Union is scrapped altogether.
It says: “Parliament must not be prorogued or dissolved unless and until the Article 50 period has been sufficiently extended or the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU has been cancelled.”
There were also protests outside Parliament after the Prime Minister’s announcement, addressed by MPs including leading Jeremy Corbyn allies Diane Abbott and John McDonnell.
Ms Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary, told protesters: “At the end of the day, it doesn’t exactly matter where you stand on Brexit, it matters where you stand on Tory prime ministers closing parliament because they don’t want to give people a say.
“If this was a Latin American country it would be called a coup, complete with American president publicly backing it. We have to stop this coup, not just for parliament but for this country’s future and for our children’s future.”
Mr McDonnell, the Shadow chancellor, told the crowd: “The message is simple, whatever side you’re on in the debate around Brexit, the message is absolutely simple here, we’re supposed to be a democracy, and that democracy is meant to be a parliamentary democracy.
“They have taken away the decision. We think the decision that Boris Johnson is frightened of is parliament itself taking control of the agenda next week and they’re not allowing us the opportunity.
“By closing parliament down, it effectively closes democracy down in this country.”
The Prime Minister also faces the threat of legal challenges. The businesswoman and anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller has already launched a bid for a judicial review challenging prorogation.
She says she will ask the courts to block the prime minister’s decision to suspend Britain’s parliament for more than a month before Brexit.
Ms Miller, who in 2017 successfully challenged the Government over its authority to leave the EU without a vote in parliament, said she would seek an urgent judicial review before 9 September, the earliest date that a suspension of parliament could come into effect.
“The basis of my approach to the courts is that it cannot be legitimate or a proper use of the prerogative power to prorogue parliament when the intention and effect inherent in doing so is to frustrate parliament and fetter it from exercising its sovereign right to fulfil its elective role and enact any law it sees fit,” she said.