London : The British Parliament’s House of Commons was officially dissolved on Wednesday with all business coming to an end ahead of the June 8 snap general election announced by Prime Minister Theresa May.
May is set to meet Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace to officially inform her of the dissolution of the 650 -member House of Commons or the lower house. Her meeting with the 91-year-old monarch later on Wednesday marks the formal start of campaigning for the election even though all political parties have already begun canvassing.
“The dissolution of Parliament took place on Wednesday 3 May 2017. All business in the House of Commons has come to an end and there are no MPs. Every seat in the Commons is vacant until after the general election on 8 June 2017,” the British Parliament said in a statement on its website.
Under the British law, the Parliament must be dissolved at least 25 working days before a general election.
However, the Parliament is “prorogued” several days ahead of being dissolved, meaning all parliamentary business stops but the Parliament still technically exists until dissolution. After the dissolution, every seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant and members of parliament temporarily lose all privileges associated with their station.
But MPs with ministerial positions continue with their duties until the elections. May, who received the Parliament’s backing last month to hold snap polls, is currently leading in most opinion polls to win a majority mandate for her Conservative party which, she believes, needs to carry Brexit negotiations forward.
Her decision to hold a snap general election took everyone by surprise, including the queen – who will have to “dress-down” for the new UK Parliament opening next month due to shortage of time to rehearse for the event.
The British monarch is responsible for the ceremonial opening of Parliament business every year, which involves considerable pomp and ceremony including being dressed up in flowing robes. However, this time the queen will wear a day dress and hat for the ceremony and not the imperial state crown as she delivers the queen’s Speech outlining the government’s plans for the year ahead on June 19. The date also means that the queen has had to cancel the Order of the Garter ceremony when she hands over royal medals at Windsor Castle, for the first time in 30 years.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement that “to allow her majesty to attend in support of the parliamentary and constitutional process, the queen’s programme of engagements has been revised. “As a result, the annual service for the Order of the Garter, which had been due to take place on 19th June, has been cancelled. Additionally, owing to the revised calendar, the state opening of the Parliament will take place with reduced ceremonial elements”.—PTI