The Guardian today reported the following on prorogation:

Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, refused on Tuesday to rule out a second prorogation as part of No 10’s tactics to achieve a no-deal Brexit.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether the current suspension of parliament could happen again, Buckland said: “Harold Wilson said a week is a long time in politics. It seems like an hour is a long time in politics at the moment.

Is there any precedent of extending a prorogation of parliament or two subsequent prorogations with little time in between? If there is or if there are any other rules governing prorogation, can the government just extend the current one or will it have to do the ceremonial things like having Black Rod walk to the commons again?

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    A lot currently hangs on what the Supreme Court finds. Whatever the verdict, they are bound to elaborate upon it. My sense is that they are unlikely to find in such a way that it opens up to any Prime Minister the ability to prorogue at will. However, as Lord Sumption made clear on TV last night, Parliament cannot be prorogued indefinitely. Even Charles I found that to be impossible - he had to raise finance. And any such PM would be dismissed from office at the first available opportunity.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 18:07
  • @WS2 isn't the only way to dismiss the PM (or more broadly the government) by a vote of no confidence (or a new election, which requires a bigger majority). So, if parliament doesn't want to do that, it can't oppose a prorogation?
    – JJJ
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 18:09
  • They could prorogue again (technically the same), so yes. The constitution evolved since, so not committing this as an answer, but there's a colorful precedent during Charles I's personal rule, which played a role in triggering the English Civil War. He basically prorogued Parliament for 10 years. You might also want to listen to the latest "Brexit Means" podcast by The Guardian. They discussed this option at one point (it's in the 2nd half of the podcast if memory serves me well, if you don't feel like listening to the whole thing). Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 18:45
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    @JJJ One of the Supreme Court justices today, did ask the Prime Minister's counsel whether, if they found in his favour, he might seek further to prorogue. The QC seemed to equivocate, and the judge asked him to put it in writing. So clearly the SC are on top of this possibility. They are not only judging whether the law was broken, but are alert, as judges have to be, to the implications of any precedent they are establishing.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 21:12
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1 Answer 1


There seems to have been a precedent in 1948, not of extending but rather of two prorogations in sequence. At the time, Atlee's Labour government was seeking to change the Parliament act of 1911. He intended to reduce the Lords' powers so they would be not be able to stall his nationalization agenda beyond the life of Parliament:

A bill was introduced in 1947 to reduce the time that the Lords could delay bills, from three sessions over two years to two sessions over one year. The Lords attempted to block this change. The Bill was reintroduced in 1948 and again in 1949, before the 1911 Act was finally used to force it through. Since the 1911 Act required a delay over three "sessions", a special short "session" of parliament was introduced in 1948, with a King's Speech on 14 September 1948, and prorogation on 25 October 1948.

The King's speech follows a prorogation, so that's two prorogations in short sequence.

As discussed in the comments there's also the colorful episode of Charles I's personal rule, which lasted 10 years. But that one probably shouldn't count here -- it's from a different time, with different constitutional practice, and basically triggered the English Civil War

  • I heard about that 1948 prorogation as well in the hearing, the judge noted that it was an all-hereditary House of Lords back then.
    – JJJ
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 19:18
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    @JJJ: it was also noted that on that occasion, the Commons was in favour of the action, whereas the Lords objected. Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 21:07
  • @JJJ true, but that shouldn't actually make any legal, as apposed to ideological difference.
    – user19831
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 21:19

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