“Only around four Commons sitting days will be lost” due to prorogation

Downing Street source

August 27, 2019

Claim

When prorogation was announced on 28 August, a Downing Street source was widely quoted saying only around four commons sitting days would be lost.

Tory MP Steve Double also told the BBC: “We will only be losing four days during September and October.”

Facts

Without any prorogation parliament would have been in recess for, at most, 13 days over September and October for conference recess (from 16 September to 7 October, assuming a four-day week). This assumes parliament returning on the Tuesday after conference season as it did last year.

Parliament was prorogued in the early hours of 10 September with the intention it would return on 14 October for the Queen’s speech.

The plan for prorogation would have meant parliament would have been in recess for a minimum of 19 days (the 13 stated above and additionally the 10 to 12 September and 8 to 10 October).

So, in total, parliament would have lost at least six sitting days if the prorogation had taken place. Moreover, no substantive parliamentary business could have taken place during the Queen’s speech on 14 October. So in practical terms at least seven days of parliamentary sitting time would have been lost.

The prime minister also received advice from his Director of Legislative affairs that seven sitting days would be lost (she did not count the Queen’s Speech day but assumed parliament would return on the Monday after conferences, rather than the Tuesday).

Verdict

The misreporting of the number of days is another example of the media’s failure to challenge falsehoods emanating from Boris Johnson’s Downing Street. For example, Guido Fawkes wrote that the prorogation “will result in parliament losing only 4 sitting days.” Iain Dale wrote that “three days of Parliamentary sittings will be lost in the week after the party conferences.”

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