PARLIAMENT SHUTDOWN – A NASTY PRECEDENT!
Protests are underway across the country against the government’s decision to prorogue parliament and essentially close down scrutiny or further meaningful debate on Brexit, as we head towards the 31st October deadline. I fully support these peaceful protests; it is a fundamental part of a free & democratic society to do so.
Whether you voted to Leave or Remain, you should be extremely worried about the approach to close down our parliament. Boris Johnson is seeking to establish a nasty precedent. Imagine it being a decision to take the country to war and parliament was shut down to prevent scrutiny of the government or the Prime Minister…that is the kind of area we are heading, if we are not careful. Even the disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq went through parliament, albeit sadly built on a pack of lies.
The Prime Minister’s smirking protestations that he is doing nothing wrong are disingenuous. Yes, proroguing parliament ahead of a Queen’s Speech is not illegal and is established procedure, but for one or two weeks, not five. There is no justification for a complete five-week cessation of parliament’s activities ahead of a Queen’s Speech. The central mantra of the Leave campaign was to ‘take back control’ and our parliamentary sovereignty. Now Johnson is seeking shutting down parliament and that very sovereignty to achieve an outcome of No Deal, something he said only a few weeks ago he wouldn’t do.
Whatever happens with Brexit, even if it’s with No Deal, it must go through our parliament. The UK’s constitutional arrangements have long relied on conventions. What we cannot do is allow an unscrupulous Prime Minster to trample on these conventions and our representative parliamentary system – if it happens once, it will happen again.
Clearly the parliamentary arithmetic won’t be changing and people are right to be frustrated with how Brexit has been handled and free to feel that elected representatives may not be representing their particular point of view; elections resolve those feelings. Which is precisely why we must now go back to the people in the form of a General Election. The next government must then seek a mandate from the British people on how they want to proceed. Labour is absolutely right to want to avoid a No Deal Brexit – I say that as someone who’s position has been that we deliver on the referendum result in the form of a good deal.
It really is testimony to the failure of this government that we are in this situation. The Conservatives have had three years to negotiate a deal and failed to negotiate with themselves, let alone the EU. Despite most people being sick to the back teeth of the Brexit issue, we cannot allow our parliamentary system, irrespective of any flaws, to be shut down in this manner. If Boris Johnson really feels that the people support his kamikaze approach to actively pursue No Deal, he should be ready to test this with voters at an election. All I can say is, in Northampton South Labour Party we are ready.
Gareth Eales – Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Northampton South.