7 recent parliamentary recalls – why do MPs return to parliament?

Houses of Parliament

MPs are currently not in parliament thanks to the parliamentary recess, but when have they been called back?

1. 9/11 Terror Attacks (2001)

Following the tragic and terrifying 9/11 attacks in the United States, parliament was recalled.

According to parliamentary reports, MPs held a three-minutes silence in memory of those lost in the attacks, and Prime Minister Tony Blair said that:

“There is a great deal to do and many details to be filled in, and much careful work to be undertaken over the coming days, weeks and months. We need to mourn the dead and then act to protect the living.”

2. Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” (2002)

Just over one year after parliament was recalled following the events of 9/11, parliament was summoned again to discuss the dossier which supposedly set out an explanation of Iraq’s WMDs, according to parliamentary records.

That dossier eventually became known as the dodgy dossier as parts of it were plagiarised from a students’ thesis, as reported by the Independent.

Tony Blair Sitting

3. Death of the Queen Mother (2002)

Following the death of the Queen Mother, parliament was recalled allowing MPs to pay their respects.

According to the BBC, then Prime Minister Tony Blair said:

“There is nothing false or complicated about the public response to her death... she loved her country and her country loved her.”

4. Riots (2011)

Following riots in London and other cities in the UK, parliament was recalled to discuss them, as reported by the Guardian.

Of the riots, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“These are sickening scenes – scenes of people looting, vandalising, thieving, robbing, scenes of people attacking police officers and even attacking fire crews as they are trying to put out fires.”

5. Syria (2013)

David Cameron recalled the parliament at the end of August 2013 to discuss the escalating war in Syria in the wake of revelations about use of chemical weapons, according to the BBC. The recall led to a vote on intervening in which Cameron was defeated thanks to numerous Tory MPs voting with Ed Miliband's Labour, as reported by the Guardian.

Ed Miliband

6. Margaret Thatcher’s death (2013)

Following the death of the UK’s first female prime minister, parliament was recalled to remember her. The recall was a particularly unusual one as the death of a former leader does not usually trigger a recall of parliament, with the Guardian reporting that the Speaker John Bercow was “taken aback” by David Cameron’s recall request.

On top of that, the paper reports that the parliamentary tributes lasted over seven hours – well over the hour or so long slots allocated to remember other former prime ministers.

Maggie In Hard Hat

7. Jo Cox (2016)

After the tragic murder of Labour MP Jo Cox at the start of last summer, just days before the EU referendum, parliament was recalled to pay tribute to her, according to the BBC.