Just when you thought the Brexit roller coaster had reached its dizzying zenith, in marches a lawmaker to grab a giant ornamental mace in a uniquely British act of protest.
Shortly after UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday delivered her bombshell decision to delay a crucial vote on her Brexit withdrawal agreement, Labour member of parliament Lloyd Russell-Moyle picked up the ceremonial staff in an act of rebellion.
The five-foot (1.5 meter), silver gilt ornamental mace is a symbol of royal authority in the British House of Commons that dates back centuries – and without it, parliament cannot meet or pass laws.
In extraordinary scenes, Russell-Moye marched up to the mace which sits on a table in front of John Bercow, the Speaker of the House (or presiding officer), picked it up and walked off with it.
The House of Commons erupted, with MPs on all sides yelling out for order. “No, No, put it back!” boomed Speaker Bercow.
A parliament official then took the mace off Russell-Moye and returned it to the table. Bercow suspended Russell-Moye for the rest of the day’s sitting, which was a matter of minutes.
“Thankfully they haven’t locked me in the Tower of London,” wrote Russell-Moye in a tweet later. “But if they had I’d expect May to be in the cell next to me for her treatment of Parliament today.”
“I’m allowed back tomorrow after my symbolic protest against this government, wish May wasn’t allowed back,” he added.
The mace has been removed several times in the past. The last time was in 2009 when Labour MP John McDonnell grabbed the mace in protest over the Conservative government’s decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow airport, according to the UK Press Association.