This article was first published in the St Austell Voice on 11th September 2019
Johnson (and Cummings) have made their move, Parliament is to be prorogued, a highly controversial plan which basically (despite what the Tories will try to argue) shortens the timetable for MPs who want to scrutinise a no-deal Brexit, which we know will be harmful to people and businesses in the UK.
I am outraged by this action and I think that we can all see it for what it is, a deliberate restriction of democratic engagement.
Jacob Rees-Mogg calmly explaining “move along folks, nothing to see here…” gives me cause for concern. Johnson claims that the decision to suspend parliament is not linked to his Brexit strategy, and is instead needed because this session of parliament is late being prorogued. Our very own MP has tweeted that the overall loss is “only 4 days” so why should we worry. Unsurprisingly this was quoted by all Conservative MPs indicating that this was the “mantra” of the day to be used by all.
The government has announced that it would suspend (or 'prorogue') parliament from a day between the 9 and 12 September to 14 October. The period includes the traditional recess of around three weeks for party conferences. However, the insult to parliamentary power is clear. Parliament gives its assent to the conference recess each time. Had MPs wanted more time to debate Brexit, they could have decided not to support the recess this year (and there are indications that this was being considered). The five-week prorogation will be the longest in history; if it was just about bringing a new Queen’s Speech it could have been much shorter.
Large numbers of people have taken to the streets to protest about the proroguing of Parliament and I know that many people are very angry about this move, as am I. We took to the streets in a cross-party peaceful demonstration in St Austell this Tuesday and I am sure there will be many other protests. If this was a Labour government that had taken this action, does anybody imagine that Rees-Mogg would be saying “this is all perfectly above board”. Of course he wouldn’t, he would be outraged.
Recently cabinet members Sajid Javed, Amber Rudd and Matt Hancock were on record as being against proroguing and now they face criticism (rightly) for backing the plan. Hypocrites, being made to bend to the will of Cummings. Sajid Javid’s aide Sonia Hussain was suspected of leaking information and summoned to the office of Dominic Cummings for interrogation. He then sacked her with no evidence of wrongdoing and had her escorted away by the police. Only later, was Javid informed and he wasn’t happy apparently, because he confronted Johnson. So this is what the Tory government has come to in the midst of handling what has become a national crisis. Truly shocking.
More than 50 cross-party MPs have vowed to sit in an alternative House of Commons if Johnson carries out his suspension. They have said that the suspension is an unconstitutional coup and that parliamentarians must not allow the government to avoid scrutiny at this time of emergency.
So this is about seizing power from the people’s representatives and handing it to a non-elected Prime Minister. The government seems to have learnt from President Trump; nothing is about principle, but focusing, not on the ethics of what you are doing, but simply how you can win. The latest announcement from Johnson/Cummings is that they are going to bar any Tory MP who doesn’t go along with their plot to force a “No Deal” Brexit; they will not be allowed to stand as Tory candidates at the next election. In taking this decision Johnson/Cummings have shown a complete disregard for the most fundamental of our democratic traditions.
Proroguing parliament goes against the spirit of democracy.
We must ALL fight this downward slide into something that resembles dictatorship.
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This blog will be created by members of the Exec committee on topics of interest to the St Austell & Newquay Labour Party