When news broke on Wednesday morning that Boris Johnson was planning to prorogue Parliament for five weeks ahead of a new Queen's Speech, a conference call was hastily scheduled with his Cabinet. By the time it happened, every minister on the call was aware of what the Prime Minister was seeking to propose.
The Prime Minister used the call to stress that the decision to suspend Parliament was not about denying MPs the chance to have their say. However, he did say that if Brussels thinks MPs cannot frustrate Brexit, there is a better chance of an eventual deal. The general mood of the Cabinet towards Johnson was one of support – ministers previously opposed to both no deal and prorogation found words of praise for the Prime Minister.
However, as I say in today's i paper, queries were raised. Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith asked the Prime Minister to make the legal advice available to Cabinet – he also queried the consequences the plan could have for Northern Ireland. Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd pressed for further insight into how Johnson plans to get a Brexit deal. Johnson told ministers he saw the chances of a Brexit deal as 50/50.
This is a somewhat revised estimate to Johnson's 'million to one' no deal claim during the leadership campaign. However, the decision to prorogue Parliament is seen by senior government figures as one that will reduce the chances of no deal and increase the likelihood of a new Brexit deal.