Boris Johnson faces a revolt over his move to suspend Parliament, with a cross-party group of MPs expected to launch a bid to block a no-deal Brexit as soon as next week.
The Queen met with members of Privy Council on Wednesday at Balmoral and an order to prorogue Parliament between September 9 and October 14 was given the green light.
Mr Johnson’s move sparked outrage, with a petition against prorogation reaching one million signatures and opposition leaders writing to the monarch in protest.
As anti-Brexit campaigners gathered for an emergency demonstration against the move, Philip Hammond confirmed a cross-party move to prevent no-deal will be brought forward.
The Tory MP and former Chancellor said MPs opposed to crashing out of the EU wanted to wait until later in September before taking action, but will now be forced to take action next week.
“A number of my colleagues would have preferred to wait … and move in late September. That will now not be possible,” he told reporters. “We will have to try to do something when parliament returns next week.”
Commons Speaker John Bercow said the plan was a “constitutional outrage” designed to stop Parliament debating Brexit.
But the Prime Minister called it “completely untrue” to suggest Brexit was the reason for his decision, insisting he needs a Queen’s Speech to set out a “very exciting agenda” of domestic policy.
“There will be ample time on both sides of that crucial October 17 summit, ample time in Parliament for MPs to debate the EU, to debate Brexit, and all the other issues,” Mr Johnson said.
Legal challenges against Mr Johnson’s decision are mounting, with separate bids launched in London and Edinburgh courts seeking an emergency injunction to prevent Parliament being suspended.
It comes as impromptu protests sprung up across the UK in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge and Durham against the move.
Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is expected to resign on Thursday, in part due to opposition to Mr Johnson’s Brexit strategy, although sources say she will also cite personal reasons for her decision.
Barrister Tom Hickman tweeted that anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller “has issued proceedings to challenge prorogation. Mishcon de Reya, Lord Pannick QC, Warren Fitt and me acting”.
Speaking to BBC News, Ms Miller said the PM was “hijacking the Queen’s prerogative power” and using it for “unscrupulous means”.
She added: “I think that is what so shocking about this, is that its a very cowardly way of using these powers and constitutional convention.
“Our unwritten constitution is a bit like a gentleman’s agreement, and you have to say it’s not been used in that manner.”
In 2016, Ms Miller launched a successful legal bid, with judges ruling that MPs would have to vote before the Government could invoke Article 50 to formally start the UK’s exit process from the EU.
A separate bid has been launched by pro-Remain barrister Jo Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, who has filed a motion asking the Scottish Court of Session to suspend the PM request that Parliament be prorogued.
Former Tory prime minister Sir John Major also said on Wednesday he is seeking advice on the legality of Mr Johnson proroguing Parliament.
MPs will return to Parliament on Tuesday, but just over a week later on September 10, at the earliest, Parliament could be prorogued until October 14 ahead of a Queen’s Speech.
Mr Johnson’s prorogation plan came just a day after opposition leaders struck a deal to try to block a no-deal Brexit through legislative means.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Government is trying to “prevent us preventing a no-deal by shortening the parliamentary timetable”.
Mr Bercow led the barrage of withering criticism of the Prime Minister, claiming he was committing an “offence against the democratic process”.
He added: “However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.
“Shutting down Parliament would be an offence against the democratic process and the rights of Parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives.”
Rebel Tory leader Dominic Grieve also tore into the Prime Minister for “playing an extremely dirty game”.
He told Sky News: “This is tantamount to a coup really against Parliament… I’m fairly confident that he will not find it easy to get his way.”
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a letter to the monarch on Wednesday he “protested in the strongest possible terms on behalf of my party”.
He added: “I believe all the other opposition parties are going to join in with this.”
Former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas has wrote to the PM, urging him to reconsider his decision.
“Your utter disregard for basic democratic standards, the sovereignty of Parliament and the rights of voters to representation is deeply insulting to – and worrying for – every UK resident,” the MP wrote to the Prime Minister.
“Your duty as Prime Minister is to bring people back together and find ways forward that can re-unite our country, yet you have chosen a very different path.”
The pound plunged more than a cent against the dollar and almost a cent against the euro as news emerged of the planned shutdown of Parliament, fuelling fears of an EU crash-out, before recovering some ground.
Despite the backlash in many quarters, DUP leader Arlene Foster said she had spoken directly with Mr Johnson about his plans and he was “well within his rights” to suspend Parliament.
Mrs Foster said the Queen’s Speech would also offer an opportunity to bring focus back to Northern Ireland, with the renewal of her party’s confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives.
“I think the Prime Minister is well within his rights to look for a Queen’s Speech – he wants to set out his domestic agenda,” she said.
“It gives us the opportunity here in Northern Ireland, through ourselves, to bring a focus back to Northern Ireland again, particularly around the confidence and supply agreement, and I look forward to engaging with the Prime Minister over the coming weeks.”
As news of the plan broke, US President Donald Trump reaffirmed his support for Mr Johnson by wading into debate over blocking a no-deal Brexit.
The US President insisted it would be “very hard” for Jeremy Corbyn to seek a no confidence vote” because Mr Johnson is “exactly what the UK has been looking for.”
This came days after his meeting with Mr Johnson at the G7 summit, where he spoke warmly about the PM.