Only three Sussex MPs responded to Boris last week

At the end of last week in Parliament, there was a significant debate and decision which was completed within 25 minutes of the deadline. The debate was called “Referral of Prime Minister to Committee of Privileges” and it started at 11.38am on Thursday and the Speaker explained

“The debate may continue for as long as it takes unless either there is a successful closure motion to bring the debate to an end or we reach 5 o’clock, in which case the debate will be adjourned to a future day.”

It ended at 4.35pm with an agreement on the proposal that

“this matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges to consider whether the Right honourable Member’s conduct amounted to a contempt of the House, but that the Committee shall not begin substantive consideration of the matter until the inquiries currently being conducted by the Metropolitan Police have been concluded.”

So once the Police have completed their enquiries and the Sue Gray report has been published the committee which involves seven MPs and which was first formed in the 17th Century will carry out its first ever investigation into a Prime Minister. The Metropolitan Police have announced that they will not make any more actions until after the local election which takes place on the 6th May so it will be several weeks before the Committee can even begin to start the discussions and no one knows how long it will take. According to one piece of information

“The committee has the same membership as the standards committee, which rules on MPs’ conduct outside the chamber. It is typically less prominent than the standards committee, but now it, and its members, are centre-stage.”

So, these MPs two of whom are already reasonably well recognised will all become very well known. It was fascinating that the debate took a lot longer than any others since at least 2010. According to the Speaker

“Previous debates on such motions have been relatively short. Since 2010, the longest such debate has been for one hour and 29 minutes, and debates have been as short as seven minutes.”

So given that this five hours and 3 minutes debate resulted in the first ever decision for a Prime Minister to be referred to a committee it was clearly very significant. Despite the long debate only two Sussex MPs took part in it. One was Caroline Lucas who was one of the people who set the Privilege Motion out to Parliament. The other person involved was Peter Bottomley and so in terms of Sussex there were contributions from Brighton and Worthing but nowhere else in our area. Earlier in the week on Tuesday another discussion on the same subject was launched by the Prime Minister who began by apologising for one of his behaviours that has taken place during the last two years. He began by saying

“Let me begin in all humility by saying that on 12 April, I received a fixed penalty notice relating to an event in Downing Street on 19 June 2020. I paid the fine immediately and I offered the British people a full apology, and I take this opportunity, on the first available sitting day, to repeat my wholehearted apology to the House. As soon as I received the notice, I acknowledged the hurt and the anger, and I said that people had a right to expect better of their Prime Minister, and I repeat that again in the House now.”

During that debate again only two Sussex MPs took part. One was Caroline Lucas and the other was Lloyd Russell-Moyle who is our other Brighton MP. On both of these debates there were people who stood up to support the Prime Minister as well as many more MPs who spoke about his mistakes and their view that he needs to step down as our Prime Minister. Given that our area involves a total of 16 MPs and that several of them are members of the Government and most of the others are members of the Conservative Party, it seems very concerning that none of them apart from Caroline, Lloyd and Peter Bottomley chose to stand up and raise their views, either to support or criticise the Prime Minister or even just to acknowledge his apology. One of the statements from Caroline was

“Our whole system of checks and balances is completely out of date. It is beyond ludicrous that the arbiter of whether the ministerial code has been broken is the person who is accused of breaking it—in this instance, the Prime Minister. Does the Leader of the Opposition agree that we also need a wider look at those governance structures, which are simply not fit for purpose?”

This statement was agreed by many of the people in that debate.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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