A Week in Parliament

Well, where to start with the latest UK Parliament shambles? There is rightful anger at Boris Johnson and his right-wing cabal suspending Parliament at such a crucial time. Thus, avoiding scrutiny and trying to run the clock down towards a no-deal crash out of Europe. In amongst this farce we also need to remember this falls within UK / British “democracy” and the “unwritten constitution”. It seems to have always been accepted that the Prime Minister’s representatives can ask the Queen to suspend parliament and that she should just oblige. This shows once more this archaic system of Government is not fit for purpose. I have previously expressed frustration about the summer recess at this critical time, let alone having another parliamentary break.

I currently have over 80 parliamentary written questions awaiting publication, as over the recess these do not get published/submitted for formal answer. Therefore, scrutiny really is suspended. Who knows what will get resolved in the short period back before Parliament is prorogued? Once parliament is suspended all legislation not formally passed falls away as well. This happened in 2017. Bizarrely, this means if the UK Government is to be truly ready to crash out of Europe without a deal, then it still has a whole load of legislation to pass. Critical stuff like the Fisheries Bill, an Agricultural Bill, and loads of secondary legislation. So it is incredible that they will need to try and do so in an extremely short period.

Some of the UK Government’s justifications for suspension are clear nonsense – it has been observed that Parliament would be in recess anyway for the Party Conference season. However, as this recess had not been agreed, a vote in Parliament would be required. Would Johnson win such a vote? Unlikely, so this process avoids the voting process. They also say it is normal for a new Government to have a Queen’s speech to reflect this new Government. However, it isn’t a new Government as such. It is a new Prime Minister sure, who has reshuffled the cabinet. However, they should actually be bound by their manifesto, and if they want to be so radically different then they should stand on an election platform to have that electoral legitimacy.

Meanwhile, given Johnson has no working majority at Westminster and that many more MPs still within the Tory party are determined to work against him in key votes to try and prevent a No Deal crash out, it seems inevitable that there will be another general election, either just before, or just after the October 31st date. If this does come to pass, and I am lucky enough to be reselected by the SNP, it will mean I will have fought two additional general elections, in a time period which should still have been my first term in office as an elected MP under the fixed term parliamentary system. Not only is this a demonstration of how unstable UK politics is but it makes a mockery of the Tories lecturing the SNP previously about “now is not the time” regards a referendum, given they are forcing elections whenever suits them.

These views were first expressed in the Kilmarnock Standard.