LONDON — Opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's move to suspend Parliament crystalized Thursday amid protests, legal action and a petition that has gathered more than 1 million signatures.
Johnson's maneuver gives his political opponents even less time to prevent a chaotic no-deal Brexit before the Oct. 31 withdrawal deadline. But the decision outraged critics and is unifying the disparate opposition leaders, who have confirmed they will press on with measures to block a departure from the European Union without a deal despite Johnson's actions.
"We will seek to try and put through the appropriate legislation in this constrained time- table that the government has now put before us," said Barry Gardiner, the opposition Labour Party's spokesman on international trade.
Thousands packed College Green outside Parliament on Wednesday, waving EU flags and placards to express their anger. Smaller rallies took place in other towns and cities, and 25 bishops from the Church of England expressed their concern about the "economic shocks" of a no-deal Brexit on the poor and other vulnerable people.
A petition on a government website demanding that Parliament not be suspended has gotten more than 1 million signatures — guaranteeing that it will be considered for debate.
Legal challenges loom. Lawmakers already are asking a Scottish court to rule that suspending Parliament is illegal. Businesswoman Gina Miller, who won a ruling in the Supreme Court in 2017 that stopped the government from triggering the countdown to Brexit without a vote in Parliament, has another legal challenge in the works. A human rights campaigner has sued in Northern Ireland, arguing that the historic Good Friday accord that brought peace is in jeopardy because of Johnson's actions.
House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg dismissed the fury and described Johnson's move as constitutional and proper.
"I think the outrage is phony and it is created by people who don't want us to leave the European Union and are trying very hard to overturn the referendum result and don't want the benefits of leaving the European Union," he told the BBC.
Others took a different view, Lawmakers giving interviews near the House of Commons on Thursday had to speak over chants of "Stop the coup! Stop the coup!"