A Week in Parliament

Those Votes

So, Teresa May’s withdrawal agreement proposals were rejected to the extent it was the biggest ever Government defeat in history. It shows why the UK Government fought in court to try to prevent MPs having a vote on this! So, she has lost on the principle of not allowing MPs to vote. Her Government is the first in history to be found in contempt of Parliament and now a record defeat of 230 votes.

Given other high court defeats when the Tory Government policies have been found to discriminate against the disabled; the failing universal credit system, the WASPI disgrace, yet another new policy that robs pensioners of income to name but a few, then it is clear she and her Government are completely incompetent. Any Prime Minister with a modicum of self-respect would resign or call a General Election the previous biggest Government defeat, on Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 led to an early General Election.

Meanwhile, incredibly, her Government won the cote of no confidence by 19 votes. This seems a decent margin until you realise that had the ten DUP MPs voted the other way then the Government would be defeated. Another example that the Tory party have bought the votes of the DUP by awarding an extra £1.5bn to Northern Ireland. Fair play to the DUP for hard negotiations. However, as Scotland gets no Barnett Consequential money from this, and Scotland has a real terms budget cut of £2bn, it is logical to say that we are suffering to allow the Tories to stay in power with that “bribe”. Yet, the 13 Scottish Tories seem content for this to happen. We really do get a raw deal from the current arrangements at Westminster.

 What Next?

I like to try and inform constituents as to what will happen next. Unfortunately no-one knows! The Prime Minister has offered constructive dialogue with other parties. However, this already feels like window dressing and not really an effort for dialogue for real proposals. I can see her coming back to Parliament and argue that the other parties couldn’t agree on matters or give concrete proposals so it is back to her deal or leaving with no deal. What she should be doing is ruling out a no deal scenario if it will be as bad as she says it will be and also extending the article 50 timeframe.

 Backstop Arrangements

One issue with the withdrawal agreement is that fishermen in Northern Ireland may get tariff free access to the single market but Scotland won’t. I put this to the Fishing Minster and he denied this – before later on having to correct the record and that I was correct. I made the same point to the Attorney General – the QC who provides the legal advice to the Government and he didn’t understand this aspect either. When the legal advisor to the cabinet is wrong on what is included in the Withdrawal Agreement, then surely this says it all about both the agreement and the level of competence of the UK Tory Government?

These views were first expressed in the Kilmarnock Standard.