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14 September 2019

Why Parliament must be recalled from prorogation

Right wing ideologues are trying to fundamentally reshape our nation with little or no scrutiny. 

By Bill Esterson

My granddad understood the importance of parliamentary democracy. He was one of the workers who rebuilt the House of Commons chamber after it was bombed in the war. Parliament sat through the war in spite of the bombs. It has survived upheaval, it has survived wars and it has survived disasters. Now, in 2019, it is under attack again – but by forces closer to home and at a time of national crisis.

Operation Yellowhammer’s ‘base-level’ warnings paint a truly awful picture. Food, fuel and medicine shortages, job losses, smuggling between Northern Ireland and the Republic and, we are told almost in passing, there is a very real threat of civil unrest throughout the UK.

Any one of these threats would usually warrant an emergency debate in Parliament ahead of an agreed plan of action.

Yet the silence coming from Westminster is deafening – because democracy itself has been shut down.

Reflect for a moment. Is it really credible to accept that the gagging of MPs is about preparing for a Queen’s speech? 

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Of course it is not. Just as three Scottish judges do not accept it, neither do the people of this country. Whether you voted Leave or Remain, want a deal or do not want a deal – MPs should be scrutinising ministers.

Should we be surprised at the closure of the Commons? Not when you consider the pound shop Rasputin and chief adviser to the Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, who was found in contempt of Parliament earlier this year when refusing to give evidence to a select committee. 

When Cummings was asked about parliamentary sovereignty in 2016, he said “there are quite a few modifications in my personal model for the future.” 

Since becoming Johnson’s adviser, Cummings has demonstrated that his belief in Parliamentary sovereignty applies only when it suits him as prorogation shows.

It is clear, and has been for months, that those in charge of our country do not care about democracy and do not care about decency. They care only about deception and they have deceived us all – they have even deceived, according to a senior court of the land, the Queen in claiming that they were proroguing parliament in order to make way for a Queen’s Speech.

They have prorogued Parliament to impose a no-deal Brexit no matter the cost and to gag the people’s representatives. Who benefits from Parliament not being able to debate a no-eal Brexit? 

Right wing ideologues are trying to fundamentally reshape our nation with little or no scrutiny. Our democracy is about checks and balances on the system which runs our lives. When that system is reshaped without proper democratic scrutiny, it encourages any future government to bypass the people even more egregiously.

Since the Civil War, nothing has successfully silenced Parliament. We must not allow the Chamber my Grandad helped rebuild fall silent in the face of tinpot dictatorship. Parliament must be recalled so my colleagues and I can continue to do our jobs.