As predicted below, we will be having a General Election - on 12th December. The Early General Election Bill was agreed by both Houses and received Royal Assent today. We need to return a majority Government so we can pass the legislation needed to leave the EU in an orderly manner, which will allow businesses to plan, society to reunite and Parliament to move onto people's other pressing priorities.
Following the failure of Parliament to agree the programme motion, Brexit is stalled. We will now inevitably have to have a general election to unblock the absurd position Parliament is in. The referendum result has divided our community, but across Bath people keep telling me they are desperate to move on. We need a majority government so we can get on with the country's priorities.
The referendum in 2016 was an instruction to Parliament by the British people. It was the largest democratic process this country has ever undertaken. Parliament promised to respect the result of the referendum and 80% of the MPs elected in 2017 promised to implement the result in their manifestos.
Yet we still haven’t left. The process is being obstructed by dither and delay by the opposition parties who refuse to accept the result of the referendum. The ongoing delay is causing uncertainty in business, fractured families, unrest and an increasingly divided society. We are pulling away from nine challenging years rebuilding the shattered economy that was Labour's legacy. We have a comprehensive agenda of legislation to bring forward. We have to move on from this debate and leave the EU.
If Parliament does not deliver the result of the referendum why will people bother to vote again?
We must respect the result of the referendum. The alternative is chaos.
First the good news - Parliament have finally agreed on something Brexit. The commons voted 329 - 299 to approve the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the commons. Bath MP Wera Hobhouse was one of those to vote against.
Then the bad news - they voted down the programme motion which outlines the timetable.
So essentially they agreed they want a deal, but not right now. The chaos, confusion, delay and division continues.
In a historic Saturday sitting Parliament are debating the new withdrawal agreement and political declaration. The full text can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/new-withdrawal-agreement-and-political-declaration
Boris Johnson has agreed a deal with the EU, removing the controversial Northern Ireland backstop. Now is the time for all MPs to accept the outcome of the referendum, stop delaying, stop frightening people, deliver on the result and vote for this deal in Parliament on Saturday.
We must deliver on democracy.
The new Parliamentary Session commenced with the dramatic spectacle of the Queen's Speech today, laying out legislation the Government are planning to bring forward. The Government set out policies on crime, health, the environment and Brexit. Parliament will debate the Queen’s speech over the next 5 days.
Parliament has been prorogued (again) - Queen’s Speech on Tuesday 14th October
25th September to 10th October
Despite all the hype over Parliament being obliged to return to Parliament nothing of any importance happened over the last two weeks.
Our MPs returned to the Commons this morning, to a completely dysfunctional Parliament in an unprecedented situation. At any other point in history we would now be having a general election, and a true people’s vote giving you the opportunity to decide what should happen next. You are being denied that democratic voice by the opposition parties, including the Liberal “so called” Democrats, your own MP Wera Hobhouse and the Labour Party.
They could raise a vote of no confidence at any time but they are too cowardly to have a go. They could vote for a General Election, but it’s an election they don’t want because they fear it’ll return a large conservative majority – as indicated in all the polls. All they are achieving is kicking the can down the road for the date we will leave the EU.
Worse still there are those who will try to use this time to actively overturn the result of the EU referendum and to obstruct the Prime Minister’s responsibility to get a deal. However people voted in the referendum, most people realise that there was no option for individuals, families, streets, individual villages or individual towns and cities to stay in the EU while the rest of the country left. We live in one country and most people recognise that we need to respect the result of the largest democratic process this country has ever undertaken.
Continuing to delay and frustrate the process is increasing uncertainty which is bad for business, bad for the economy and as we all recognise, very bad for society.
At their conference the LibDems voted to put a policy to revoke Article 50 in their manifesto.
The Libdems campaigned for an in/out referendum, they celebrated when the referendum was called. When the outcome was a decision to leave they told 17.4m people they’d given the wrong answer and needed to be asked again. Now they are saying they don’t want to ask you again in case you give the “wrong answer” again and they are going to go ahead and revoke Article 50 anyway.
This is not democratic.
It also undermines the Prime Minister’s attempts to get a deal and adds yet more uncertainty, which is bad for society, business, jobs and the wider economy.
The easy bit - Parliament is now prorogued and there isn’t going to be a General Election just yet.
The complicated bit - explaining it all...
The Conservatives and Prime Minister have consistently stated that they want to get a deal when we leave the EU on the 31st of October but they are prepared to leave without a deal if one cannot be reached - note that neither the Party or PM have ever said they want to leave without a deal.
Labour really don’t know what they want except that they don’t want an election right now, despite calling for one consistently all year. They say it’s because they fear that if the Conservatives win the GE they will repeal the recent bill to attempt to force the PM to ask for an extension and then, for some unexplained reason, they will deliberately leave the EU without a deal (note again that this has never been a stated aim of either the Conservative Party or the Prime Minister or for that matter Annabel Tall). However, if Labour won the GE, they could drive their own agenda. So the only conclusion is that they think they won’t win and are using the fixed term parliament act to deny people a General Election to determine what should happen next.
The Lib Dems simply don’t want to leave at all which has the merit of being clear and attractively simple but rides a coach and horses through our democracy.
Meanwhile work hasn’t ground to a halt and in practice very few sitting days have been lost. Parliament was due to take a break or “recess” anyway from roughly 13 September - 8 October for the conference season.
Unlike when Parliament is dissolved before a General Election, all the MPs are still MPs and they and their staff will continue to work. Which I can confirm because as a member of Parliamentary staff I am currently in London for a meeting tomorrow morning. The main difference is that the house will not sit and there will be no formal debates or legislation until Parliament resumes after the Queens Speech on 14th October.
The Bill attempting to rule out a no deal Brexit passed through the House of Lords on Friday. It will pass into law once it has received royal ascent.
The Government is now in the extraordinary position of not having a majority, having to negotiate with the EU without the strongest bargaining chip, being unable to pass legislation in a conventional way, but unable to trigger a General Election because it is been blocked by the opposition.
This is possible due to the Fixed Term Parliament Act. The Act requires 2/3 of the MPs to vote for a GE. There are other options but all are more complex and I am sure we will see them brought forward this week.
So, why don’t the opposition want an election? If they had sufficient support, surely they would win? and the winners then drive the policies...
It is how it’s supposed to work, but in this case they fear they will lose. The opposition are now not only refusing to uphold the instruction given to Parliament by the people in the referendum, but also denying people a general election because they think they know better and they don’t trust the people to make the “right” choice. This is becoming historic people vs Parliament situation.
Today we will see further attempts by the Government to give the power back to you through a General Election.
So what happened yesterday?
I had the interesting perspective of being in Westminster yesterday working.
By the time I arrived Parliament square was open but surprisingly quiet with a handful of Remain and Leave protestors outside the gates. Both were overshadowed by a man protesting far more effectively about single use plastics.
Meanwhile in the commons the MPs took control of the parliamentary agenda and brought forward a bill to rule out a no deal exit. While this may seem a good idea on the face of it, politics is complicated. If passed into law it will have the consequence of removing the main bargaining chip in negotiations with the EU, effectively tying the PMs hands and possibly even increasing the chance of no deal happening - the EU do not have to accept an extension even if the PM asks. In addition all the deal can achieve is an extension, months more of exactly the same stalemate and uncertainty that we’ve had for the last 3 years.
The Bill passed rapidly through all the stages in the commons yesterday and was passed in the late evening. In a further twist, a late amendment added a requirement that MPs will be required to vote again on an amended version of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. Still following?
The PM then stood up and introduced a motion to hold general election on 15th October. Under the Parliament Act this has to be passed by over 2/3 of the entire parliament so although the motion received overwhelming approval, it was not passed because the votes did not meet the 2/3 threshold. So despite months of clamouring to put the decision back to the people, when there was an opportunity to do exactly that, the opposition parties didn’t vote for it.
So, what happens now? Last night the bill to try to avoid no deal, with the TM amendment tacked on, passed to the house of Lords where it will now be debated.
Here we go again. So what’s happening?
Last night – a motion was tabled to seize the House of Commons business from the Government. They state that they want to create legislation to stop no deal but the people backing this have a range of views (and none at all) about what they want to do with more delay.
The government lost by 27 votes.
The government also lost its small majority during the debates. Earlier in the day, a previously Eurosceptic Conservative MP who represents a ‘leave’ constituency crossed the floor to join the Lib Dems. The Lib Dem LGBT Chair promptly resigned as a result due to the MP's past voting record.
The Prime Minister responded by stating that he will offer a General Election motion. This is what Labour and the Lib Dems– including local parties – have been demanding for nigh on three years so you would think they would be happy? Wrong. They are now saying they do not want an Election.
A clip of the Labour Shadow Justice Minister on the telly is doing the rounds - he is saying that Labour wants to negotiate a new deal with the EU but they would then campaign for Remain, i.e. against their own deal. So why would the EU give a good deal? He couldn’t answer. Worth checking whether that is a new, old or rehashed clip as I am not sure. They have so many positions.
Achieving a deal is the best way of stopping no deal. Removing the ability to walk away from the negotiations will probably mean there will be no improved deal.
The EU are also known to only finalise agreements at the last moment. So constantly moving the goalposts helps nobody.
Parliament has only been back one day.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Today, there will be a Bill from Labour which seeks to extend Article 50 at least into next year and potentially indefinitely. I believe that this will cause damaging levels of uncertainty for business and jobs.
Section 3(2) of the Bill on today’s Order Paper, if passed, would compel the Prime Minister to accept whatever extension he is offered by the EU – be it 3 months, 6 months or 10 years, with whatever conditions are attached by the EU, unless Parliament opts for a No Deal Brexit.
This was just a quick overview. I am in Westminster today but always interested to hear your views. email email@example.com