UK parliament shuts early over coronavirus

By: AFP      Published: 11:56 PM, 25 Mar, 2020
UK parliament shuts early over coronavirus

The British parliament will shut down on Wednesday because of the coronavirus outbreak, with MPs sent home a week early for their Easter break.

“The House of Commons has agreed to adjourn for Easter recess and will next sit on 21 April 2020,” the lower chamber announced on its Twitter page.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick earlier told the BBC it was a “sensible” decision given the nationwide shut down of non-essential shops and services and the government order for people to stay at home.

“Obviously parliament has to lead by example,” he said, adding that it was also important to protect staff from the spread of infection of COVID-19.

But he said he was “certain that parliament will return after the Easter holidays”, saying it was important for lawmakers to scrutinise the government.

Emergency legislation giving the government powers to force people into isolation has been pushed through parliament this week and is expected to become law on Wednesday.

Before MPs began to head home, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had his final head-to-head in the Commons against opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, with the latter due to step down before parliament returns.

A new Labour leader will be announced on April 4, with Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer the favourite to take over.