Court case regarding Prorogation
The Scottish Court ruled that it was illegally brought about, but the English court had previously ruled that it was legally done. The case will be heard in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. As an elected representative I am, of course, very happy for Parliament to sit. However, this is normally the Conference season and the Liberal Democrats and Labour, as well as the Conservatives, have already booked their conferences (as we all do every year) and this prorogation has, in effect, only lost a very Parliamentary days.
The Prime Minister has announced that he has asked Her Majesty the Queen to end the current session of Parliament in mid-September and to prorogue until 14th October.
I understand the concerns which this will cause to people who wish to use every opportunity to try to keep the UK in the EU. However, there are a few points to bear in mind.
First, this proroguation means that Parliament will sit for only five or six days fewer than was originally planned, because the Commons normally takes three weeks off for the conference season (from mid-September) and would have only returned on 7th October anyway. Secondly, this session of Parliament has lasted 340 days, much longer than any other in the last 400 years. Only the 2010-12 session comes close, at 250 days. And thirdly, it is normal for any new government (as this one effectively is) to hold a Queen’s Speech and give Parliament the opportunity to vote for or against it.
The Prime Minister is continuing to work to agree a deal with the EU before we leave on 31st October, and hopes that the Commons will have the opportunity to consider the agreed arrangements before that time.
European Union (Withdrawal) (No 6) Bill
This was introduced by Labour and supported by some other MPs. They sold it as an attempt to prevent a so-called no deal Brexit. In effect, it was an attempt to derail Brexit. The Prime Minister has been holding discussions with the EU about making arrangements for the UK’s exit from the EU and this Bill will not help. What this legislation will do is cause further delay and uncertainty to the leaving process, which will not be helpful to businesses or individuals.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about what a deal and no deal Brexit actually means. A Withdrawal Agreement, which this legislation claims to want (“a deal”), is about keeping us in certain parts of the EU while we negotiate a trade agreement with the EU – the EU will not open those trade discussions until after we have left. So the longer we delay our leaving, the longer we delay starting those trade discussions. I want to see us getting onto those trade discussions as soon as possible.
Many smaller “deals” or arrangements are already being made – on air travel, lorry transportation access, Eurostar and citizens’ rights to give a few example. But as I say, we are held back from agreeing a trade deal while we remain a member of the EU.
It was for all these reasons that I voted against this Bill.
An Early General Election
I voted in favour of holding an early election as I believe this Parliament has become stale and ineffective. Because of the poor results of the unnecessary 2017 General Election, the government has no majority and there is much work to do which will require a more effective House of Commons. Unfortunately, because of the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 (which I voted against), two thirds of MPs need to support the motion calling for an early General Election for it to succeed, and because only Conservative MPs voted for it, the motion didn’t pass.