In the UK, the Prime Minister can advise the Queen to prorogue Parliament at any time.

Is there any limit on how long this prorogation may last?

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    @SteveMelnikoff That is a completely different question. The only remotely related statement is one answer stating a prorogation lasting for years could cause problems, but doesn't address whether such a prorogation would be actually legal.
    – gerrit
    Aug 28, 2019 at 13:44
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    True.The duplication is not so much the question, but that answers to this one are likely to be very similar to that one, namely: the limits are governed by taxes and other things that need to be regularly renewed by parliament; and ultimately by the 5-year limitation on the length of a parliament. Aug 28, 2019 at 13:47
  • @SteveMelnikoff Also the annual approval of a standing army.
    – owjburnham
    Aug 28, 2019 at 13:54
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    Worth pointing out that now the ruling is out, R (Miller) v The Prime Minister and Cherry v Advocate General for Scotland, none of these answers will be current. There's new case law now.
    – Nathan
    Sep 25, 2019 at 13:20

2 Answers 2


The limits can only be decided by a court, because the UK does not have written constitution setting them out.

The PM advises the queen to prorogue Parliament. There is an unwritten rule that the advice should be given in good faith, for the smooth running of parliament rather than any political end.

A court would have to decide if any particular advice to prorogue was given as such.

There is currently a case before the Scottish courts on this very issue regarding Boris' proroguing.

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    As I understand it, the preferred terminology is "codified", rather than "written", not least because a lot of UK constitutional law is written, in the form of statute. Of course, most codified constitutions still have gaps in, too.
    – origimbo
    Aug 28, 2019 at 19:23
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    @origimbo How does one distinguish the "constitutional law" of the UK from ordinary laws that don't rise to that level? Aug 28, 2019 at 23:12
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    @MontyHarder For the UK (and other countries with similar practices and traditions) constitutional law isn't a level in a hierarchy, but a subject area, comparable with e.g tax law or contract and tort. So it's the body of law to do with running the country from Magna Carta to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, along with the 800 years in between, in three and a bit legal systems. These are the things that put the "constitutional" into "constitutional monarchy". The hierarchy is statue > secondary legislation> tradition.
    – origimbo
    Aug 29, 2019 at 10:12

From a legal standpoint, I've been unable to find any evidence of a limit on the length of prorogation, other than that prorogation cannot continue beyond the date when the current Parliament would end prior to a general election.

Hence, following on from what "user" points out in their answer, so long as no court rules that the advice to prorogue was unlawful (which, at the time of writing, has never happened), a Prime Minister could use this power to prevent Parliament sitting again until after an election.

From a practical standpoint, there are a number of problems that would occur if parliament was not able to sit for a long period. These are discussed in answers to this related question.

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