Like many people across our nation I am deeply grateful for the return to Westminster last week by MPs following the Supreme Court judgement. For the 38,000 people in Sussex who signed a petition calling for Parliament not to be prorogued, along with many others who share the same concerns, the outcome was very encouraging. As I have written in the past, the arrangement for the House of Commons to take a five week break over the Summer and shorter breaks throughout the rest of the year is very questionable, particularly in the light of recent years when events such as potential attacks on Syria have led to Parliament being recalled. Few organisations can operate in a credible manner for such long breaks. Even Schools use their Summer break to improve their facilities where they have the budget to do so and teachers use the period to prepare for their next years teaching. So for Parliament to return on the third of September with the demand by Johnson that it would break up for another five weeks within a week was something that made no sense. It was clearly a tactic by our new Prime Minister who had only been in post for one Parliamentary day at the end of the previous term to avoid being held accountable by MPs. If a company or organisation was to suspend one employee for a period of time, this raises all sorts of questions, but for an organisation like the Government to suspend 550 or so associate workers is clearly ridiculous, particularly as all 650 MPs represent our whole nation.
What is very clear is that Johnson is entirely unfit for his role. Despite his own comments about the need to unite the nation which most people understand and strongly agree with, he acts as though this is an ethereal, make believe concept and in reality has set out to further polarise the already heavily divided country by his statements. He has added to disputes in Parliament which he had tried to suspend and has broken up his own political party reducing the number of MPs significantly. Even one of his Brothers and one of his Sisters have publicly disagreed with him. If he was a recently appointed CEO or Chairman of a company his shareholders, let alone those on his board would have already have forced him to resign or sacked him. What is surprising is that despite the Court judgement some of his colleagues have agreed with him on a further prorogation and now on a call for a General Election rather than his resignation. Because of his whip withdrawal for 21 MPs and the resignation of others who disagreed with him he is unable to win any votes he has set out with so far seven votes, each that went against him.
Last Thursday a debate took place under the title “Principles of Democracy and the Rights of the Electorate” a theme that should have attracted all MPs and Ministers including Johnson. However there was no vote and in reality only two Ministers attended along with 11 Tories, 8 Labour including Lloyd Russell-Moyle and 7 other MPs. Given there was only two hours for the debate that is not unreasonable. Yet the MP for the Isle of Wight complained that only 11 Labour MPs had shown up for the debate but this is clearly one of the challenges which Parliament needs to resolve moving forward as far too often only a few MPs appear in debates which gives the impression that matters are poorly supported. During the debate one MP pointed out there is the need for a website “to demystify the work of MPs in this place so that our constituents understand it and can make informed decisions when they come to the ballot box?” and Oliver Dowden, the Cabinet Office Minister responded “We would have to proceed on an all-party basis, but I should be happy for us to take that suggestion further” which sounds like a good step for them to take prior to the election. Perhaps amongst other things we could access a report on who turns up for which debates. One of the other inspiring elements came from an SNP member who pointed out “If, as the right hon. Gentleman says, we were not elected to avoid making decisions, why did he seek to support a Prorogation when we still had 12 Bills outstanding?” and indeed this debate followed on from the announcement by the Leader of the House that on Wednesday there will be the second reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill which is very good news and indeed which led to cheers in the House of Commons. It is clear that such matters must not be halted by our temporary Prime Minister!