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Today, Boris Johnson asked the Queen to prorogue (suspend) Parliament for the best part of a month from the week beginning 9th September.

The Prime Minister claims it is simply a pause in Parliamentary business ahead of his Government announcing its legislative programme in a Queen’s Speech he has scheduled for 14th October. The reality is very different. Describing the move as a “constitutional outrage” Commons Speaker, John Bercow said today:

“However it is dressed up it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.”

Speaker Bercow is right. Up and down the country, opinion is sharply divided over Brexit and, in particular over the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal on 31st October. Elected by the people, it is Parliament’s job to agree a way forward, deciding whether to approve, reject or change proposals that Prime Minister and his Government put to us. The Prime Minister is accountable to Parliament and, in turn we, as MPs in Parliament, are accountable for our decisions to the people who elected us.

By his actions today, Boris Johnson has turned that principle on its head. At the very time it is most important Parliament is in session to allow decisions to be made, he wants us shut down, allowing him to do what he wants without being answerable to anyone. He is behaving like a tin pot despot and, by invoking the convention by which the monarch goes along with advice from the Prime Minister, he has used the Queen to enable him to do so. Many would say he has abused that convention.

Little wonder then that Boris Johnson’s actions are already provoking fury well beyond Westminster. Within a few hours, over 550,000 people up and down the country had signed a petition against the suspension of Parliament. You can join them here.

As I write this, more signatures were coming in at the rate of about 1,000 per minute. Along with other MPs, in the coming days I will be looking at how, even at this late stage, we can intervene to protect our democracy from a Prime Minister so hell-bent on undermining it.

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June/July Newsletter

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May/June Newsletter

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Brexit Update – May/June 2019

Since I published my last Brexit update, the results of local Council and European elections should give all parties pause for thought. Both sets of elections saw voters express frustration at the continuing uncertainty over where we are going as a country in relation to Brexit.

Last Tuesday, the online magazine LabourList, published this article from me in which I set out some of the lessons I think my Party should learn going forward. It will not please everybody – that is inevitable. My point is that on issues like Brexit on which there are deep and genuinely-held differences across the country, all of us should be true to ourselves in what we say and not resort to abuse of those who take a different view.

And we need to find a way through this. People on both sides of the Brexit debate have interpreted the results of the Euro elections in different ways. Some have pointed to the fact that the Brexit Party secured more votes than any other single party as proof that the country still backs Brexit, without a deal if necessary. Others take a different view, pointing out that the total number votes cast for parties unambiguously backing Remain was higher than the number cast for parties unambiguously backing Brexit. However you look at it, though, the country is still divided and in truth none of us know where the majority now lies. With decision-making in Parliament deadlocked and likely to remain so, I do not therefore see any alternative but to resolve the issue by another referendum. In my Labour List article I explain why I think this – on practical grounds as well as reasons of principle.

April Newsletter

Welcome to my latest Parliamentary newsletter. If you would like to receive these updates by email, you can sign up here. Read more