prorogation, prorogue

In September 2019, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked the queen to prorogue parliament, that is to discontinue its meetings without formal dissolution, in the run-up to the UK’s Brexit from the European community. The queen granted the request. Prorogation is a commonly used but little noticed parliamentary tool, and in the UK its traditionally used in a pro forma manner in the few days leading up to a new session or just prior to parliament’s dissolution and a new election. But Johnson used it to end debate on Brexit and prevent backbenchers from taking action on Brexit contrary to what he wanted. This particular instance of prorogation is of dubious constitutionality, and, as of this writing, is under review by the UK courts. [24 September: The UK Supreme Court ruled this prorogation of parliament unconstitutional, and parliament will return to session on 25 September as if it had never happened.] But where did the word come from?

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