PMQs cancelled: Why Boris Johnson wont be facing Keir Starmer today

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Starting at 12pm each Wednesday, it’s the duty of the incumbent Prime Minister to attend Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons. The session allows politicians to raise questions with Boris Johnson about a particular issue, or that are related to a query, which has been brought to their attention by a constituency member.

How long does PMQs last for?

Typically, a session of PMQs lasts from 12 to 12.30pm, but these can occasionally drag on past the allotted time.

Who can ask questions during PMQs?

The leader of the opposition is permitted to ask six questions and is normally the second or third individual called.

They may ask two sets of three questions on any subject, with a gap in between, or use all six in one go.

Meanwhile, the leader of the next largest party in the House of Commons – currently the Scottish National Party (SNP) – is permitted two questions.

Backbench MPs can also put questions to the PM. They must enter their names on the Order Paper, which will then be shuffled in a ballot to produce a random order.

They will then be called up one at a time by the Speaker of the House of Commons to ask their question.

Questions are usually asked in an alternating fashion – one MP from the Government’s party, followed by one from the opposition benches.

MPs who are not selected may be chosen to ask a supplementary question if they “catch the eye” of the Speaker, which is done by standing and sitting immediately before the PM gives an answer.

Why is PMQs not on today?

The House of Commons was adjourned on Thursday February 10 for this month’s recess, which means no sessions will be held in the chamber.

A recess is a phrase that’s used to describe the period when the Commons is not sitting.

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Monday (February 21) will play host to the next sitting in the Commons, at 2.30pm.

MPs typically spend the Parliamentary recess working in their constituencies.

The remaining recess periods for the Commons in 2022 are as follows:

  • Easter: March 31 – April 19
  • May: April 28 – May 3
  • Whitsun: May 26 – June 6

A provisional date for the Commons to rise for its Summer 2022 recess has been announced (July 21), but is not yet confirmed.

Traditionally, the Government did not give MPs the exact dates of the recess more than a few months in advance.

This was because knowing how long a Parliament will sit for can aid opposition parties in their bids to thwart the progress of Government legislation.

But as Parliament modernises with the wider world, recess dates are now usually announced ahead of time. But they are subject to the progress of Parliamentary business.

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