The fight to protect Britain from a disastrous no-deal Brexit has reached a crucial moment. Working with a cross-party group of backbench MPs, I have been helping to fashion the legislation – which has now, thank goodness, today passed through both the Commons and the Lords – preventing Boris Johnson being able to crash us out with no EU-UK agreement on 31st October.
Parliament must now stay active right through to ensure this law is enforced and to rebut any of the tricks or traps that Downing Street conjure up.
Over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday Boris Johnson lost his first four votes in the Commons; lost his majority as Phillip Lee crossed the floor; expelled 21 of his MPs; gave an abysmal performance at PMQs; had the EU talks exposed as a ‘sham’; and lost his attempt to cut-and-run with an early election that (apparently) he said he didn’t want.
The contempt for Parliament and this Government’s laidback arrogance was summed up well by the disrespectful image of a lounging Jacob Rees-Mogg in the Commons on Tuesday (pictured below).
Johnson and his sidekick Dominic Cummings thought their strategic masterstroke of shutting down Parliament would mean they’d prevail. Thankfully those 21 former Conservative MPs refused to bow to pressure and voted against him, for which they have paid the heavy political price of ‘deselection’.
Sometimes in politics it’s the right thing to do to make such a sacrifice. We now have an increasing number of MPs – including myself – who have left their parties because of the extreme and dogmatic policies they would otherwise be forced to implement.
Boris Johnson hopes to bounce the country into supporting his Brexit approach by threatening a general election and the onset of a Corbyn government as if this is the only option. But it is a false choice. Far better for the country to deal with this Brexit mess first – in a People’s Vote – and entirely separately from that wider question of who should be Prime Minister and what you think of the parties.
I have been overwhelmed with the messages of support from many of you during this week, and I’ll get in touch shortly with how we will need to rally efforts locally. In the meantime, the main focus must now be to prevent Boris Johnson shutting down Parliament so he can have everything his own way. Making sure MPs are in place all the way through this Brexit process is the best way to safeguard the jobs and livelihoods that could otherwise be put at risk.