Boris Johnson will shut down Parliament tonight for more than a month despite Britain being gripped by crisis over Brexit.
Downing Street today confirmed an open secret in Westminster – that Parliament will be prorogued after the close of business at around 10pm.
The move means MPs will not return for more than a month until a Queen’s Speech on October 14.
They will be unable to formally debate, pass laws or hold the government to account despite 1.7million people urging the shutdown to be cancelled.
The rush to close the doors of the Commons risks MPs setting up an alternative Parliament and means Boris Johnson has a final battle on his hands in what looks to be a mammoth day in Parliament.
Jeremy Corbyn fumed: “I think it is disgraceful. Parliament should be sitting.
“Parliament should be holding the Government to account.And the Prime Minister appears to want to run away from questions.”
Mr Corbyn added: “We will take every parliamentary action we can and continue the public campaign to get no-deal taken off the table.
“And then let’s have a general election and see what kind of Government the people of this country want.”
Here is what to expect as the day unfolds.
What does today bring for Boris Johnson?
After breakfast in Dublin with Irish PM Leo Varadkar, the PM flies back to Westminster for another big showdown with MPs starting at 3.30pm.
First up is a possible bid by MPs to seize control of the agenda and force Mr Johnson to publish documents on his decision to prorogue Parliament.
Critics say the PM could be forced to admit he misled the public when he claimed the shutdown was nothing to do with stopping debate over Brexit.
MPs will also, separately, launch a last-minute bid to force the full publication of leaked documents under the no-deal planning system, Operation Yellowhammer.
After that there is MPs’ anti-no deal bill which will finally become law, forcing the PM to ask Brussels for a three month delay to Brexit if he can’t get a new deal by October 19.
The Government is then expected to bring forward a second vote on an early general election – which Labour and the opposition parties will again oppose.
This could last as late as 10pm.
After that – and there’s no cut-off time – Parliament is set to be formally prorogued in an archaic ceremony that involves senior members of the House of Lords doffing their caps.
That’s despite MPs holding a (non-binding) debate on a 1.7million-strong petition against the Parliament shutdown.
If debates run over it could run until 2am or 3am.
Meanwhile, amid all the drama Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill could set off a grenade under the Government’s plans when he appears infront of the constitutional affairs committee – at around lunchtime.
There are also last-minute committee appearances by no-deal planning chief Michael Gove and Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers. And a flurry of last-minute government announcements before it’s too late.
But Mr Johnson will avoid scrutiny by the powerful Liaison Committee which was scheduled for later in the week. And the decision means he’ll only have faced one PMQs in his first three months in the job.
What’s his game plan?
Government sources claim that Mr Johnson is prepared to deliberately pick a fight with the courts in order to deliver Brexit.
The PM will try to agree a new deal with Brussels at the crucial summit of EU leaders on October 17.
But if he fails he will disobey the new anti-Brexit law by refusing to ask for an extension.
No 10 officials believe this will guarantee an immediate judicial review, ending up in the Supreme Court, with the fate of Brexit placed in the hands of judges with just days to go before the October 31 deadline.
The courts could force the Government to demand an extension – and the Tories would blame the delay on Parliament and the judges.
What are his chances of success?
It is a high risk strategy which could be thwarted at various points by MPs, the courts or even the European Union.
But as long as Mr Johnson continues to ramp up the “surrender” rhetoric he hopes to keep Leave voters onside.
The Tories could then fight a ‘People vs the Establishment’ election and hope that he could end up back in No 10 but with a working majority to finally push through no deal.
But if the inevitable election ends up being after October 31 – which looks increasingly likely – he will have broken his pledge to deliver Brexit and Leave supporters could flock to Nigel Farage’s Brexit party instead, opening the door to Labour in No 10.
What else does No 10 have up its sleeve?
Mr Johnson is still claiming that he wants to leave with a deal – though his Government has infuriated Brussels by its failure to put forward any concrete proposals.
Ideas doing the rounds include a two-year time limit on the controversial Irish border backstop or a customs border down the Irish Sea – but both would be politically problematic for the PM.
Another gambit is the Government refusing to nominate a European commissioner if it is forced to extend the UK’s membership of the EU, which could result in the UK getting kicked out.
But legal experts claim the plan is based on a misunderstanding and that Brussels would find a way round it.