- August 28, 2019
- Posted by: Siobhan Baillie
- Category: Parliament
Some people are claiming that today’s announcement that parliament will not sit between 12th September and 14th October is a constitutional crisis. In reality the usual parliamentary Conference recess has been extended by about one week to lay out a new domestic agenda through a Queen’s Speech.
As a reminder, last year parliament did not sit during the conference season from 13th September to 9th October. It was expected that parliament would not sit for a similar period of time this year to allow for party conferences.
Today’s announcement is not cancelling parliament. It does not suspend parliament until after the Brexit deadline of 31st October to force a no deal. It does not prevent MPs the opportunity to have their say – there will be time both before parliament is suspended and once it returns after the Queen’s Speech.
A few points as I see them in these early stages of the news breaking:
The Prime Minister has said that he wants to lay down his domestic agenda with a new Queen’s Speech – something which requires parliament to be prorogued. This should be welcomed.
The current parliament is the longest without a Queen’s speech in recent history. We have already seen the new government put forward a raft of good domestic policies that will strengthen our country. I am pleased to see that Boris and his team are pushing ahead with these changes and will be presenting legislation in the Queen’s Speech.
Those who are regular readers of my comments will know that I want to see improvements for our health service, the environment, our police force, our schools and further education colleges amongst many other issues. I will therefore continue to work for Stroud and lobby government ministers in the run up to the Queen’s Speech.
The furore is about the length of time of the prorogation and due to the Brexit timetable given to us by the EU, i.e. 31st October 2019. It is difficult not to view this decision through the prism of Brexit. Everything is viewed through the prism of Brexit!
Some people are claiming that they have lost the ability to stop no-deal and for parliament to have its say. I think this is wrong.
The Queen’s Speech prorogation still gives the first two weeks of September and the last two weeks of October to debate the issue. The Prime Minister has therefore not moved to stop attempts to block the government.
Remain supporting MPs can still take steps to try to stop no deal/bring the government down/form an alternative government/try to stop Brexit as they have been repeatedly stating they want to do (albeit they cannot agree a way forward between them). It has been said that the first two weeks of September are key for parliamentary challenges and they still have this time on the new timetable.
With the above in mind, I think it is worth questioning the opposition’s claims that the decision today is a ‘constitutional outrage’. The people who are claiming the outrage are the same people who have been openly plotting to overthrow the government, have repeatedly ripped up the constitutional rule book and have argued about the possibility of having a caretaker government with Harriet Harman MP or Ken Clarke MP or Jeremy Corbyn MP in charge with the SNP.
Many people have also said to me that they are fed up with the Remain side and the Speaker of the House playing games with the rules and then being surprised when the other side use the rules to their advantage too. It is hard to disagree with this.
My own position continues to be that we should all be focusing on trying to reach a deal in the period before 31st October. All the brain power that is being used to find new constitutional rules to play with to stop no deal or stop Brexit could be used to find ways to reach a deal and prepare citizens and businesses for no deal if that cannot happen. If MPs are genuinely committed to using any route to prevent no deal, then trying to support the government to reach a deal is one route they can use.