It seems as though last Monday saw the closure of Parliament until the 14th October unless something significant happens to persuade the Prime Minister to re-open the organisation and change his plans. If not his plan is for the Queen to come into Parliament on that day to give a speech for a new Parliament that he is currently wanting to end immediately afterwards, providing he can persuade his colleagues to agree to this. According to one of his close supporters we are the cause of this. Paul Scully is the MP for Sutton and Cheam and also the Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party who explained to a small number of MPs who took part in his debate about the prorogation petition last Monday afternoon “14 October has been determined as the date for the Queen’s Speech because we want to set out our domestic agenda. We want to set out our ambitions apart from Brexit over the next 12 months. It is so important that we do so; it is what members of the public are crying out for.” I was surprised because I have not heard any calls for a Queens Speech outside of the small number of people like Paul who are supporters of Boris and professional politicians. Indeed I have heard many thousands of calls for Parliament to be reinstated and many people who want a new referendum to help us work out what to do next along with some who want a new election and also loads who want Johnson to be removed as Prime Minister. However perhaps some of the people reading this can confirm that they cried out for a Queens Speech?
Whatever the future does bring it is clear that we need new approaches to our nation’s governance. Given that most of our local MPs across Sussex and in Surrey and Kent are part of the party which is currently the largest party, it makes sense for them to pay attention to our local settings as they plan to return to a Parliament that will be in something of a muddle, both in terms of its priorities and its arrangements. The Conservatives now have 288 MPs and Labour have 247. The next largest group of MPs if they can be described as a group are defined as Independent and they amount to 42 seats which along with Stephen Lloyd now include two from Sussex, two from Kent and three from Surrey. Then there is the SNP (35) and 15 Liberal Democrats. I must confess that a few years ago I set out my own idea of what could radically reshape our Parliament. At that time nearly a third of the new Police and Crime Commissioners were Independent and the impact was significant. I wondered what would happen if Parliament had as many as 20 Independent MPs. Now to be honest this was assuming they were elected as Independent MPs and that they came in from outside the political world without any previous party involvement. However if some of these 42 people who are now identified as Independents could shake up our Parliament when they are asked to return it would be very interesting and I would favour a delay in any general election until matters have settled down a bit. That said their local constituents may wish them to stick to the manifesto that they were elected on which in most cases is the Tory Party one.
In the meantime all of the MPs who are now much more diverse in terms of their identity within Parliament now have a month to wait before they are allowed back into their place of corporate activity. Perhaps instead of focusing exclusively on the Westminster bubble which has now clearly burst, they could spend some time contemplating what sort of contribution they could make to a vital theme that John Bercow has raised which is the need for a written constitution for Parliament in the second quarter of the 21st Century. Given the experience of organising companies and charities that exist in Sussex, it would make a lot of sense for every MP to meet up with some of these bodies in the next four weeks to find out what value a written constitution provides. At the end of July Community Works which is a body that supports charities in Brighton and Hove and Adur and Worthing published a document that suggested there are 2330 organisations in Brighton and Hove that are Community or Charity based. Whilst other parts of Sussex are less dense, this indicates a huge amount of resource on our MPs doorsteps as they wait for their return to Westminster.