Parliament was only sitting for one day this week – an appalling situation at this time of national crisis – and yet so much has happened since I emailed last Friday.
On Sunday Amber Rudd resigned from the Cabinet, voicing her disagreements with Boris Johnson on Brexit and the expulsion of 21 moderate Conservative MPs.
On Monday, the final day that Parliament was allowed to sit by the Government, we managed to secure two emergency debates; one on reasserting the rule of law in the United Kingdom (which is an astonishing thing to have to do, given Boris Johnson’s threat to ignore the law preventing no-deal), and the other resolving that Ministers must publish their internal ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ document detailing the scenarios that could occur in a no-deal Brexit. Only six pages were published by the Government in response to this – but they reveal scenarios that could include:
- Up to three months of lorry delays at the ports blocking flow with waits of up to two days
- Potential delays to short shelf-life medicines and veterinary medicines
- Reductions in supplies of certain types of fresh foods and packaging
- Low income groups disproportionately affected by fuel and food price rises
- Public order concerns in the event of protests and counter-protests
- Business relocations to avoid tariffs
On Wednesday the Scottish Courts ruled that Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen on proroguing Parliament was “improper” and that the shutting down of Parliament was invalid. The Supreme Court will hear the Government’s appeal against that on Tuesday next week and it is in my view essential that Parliament is recalled and lets us get back to the business of interrogating Ministers about their plans (and lack of them).
It is now achingly obvious that sorting out Brexit means we must have a final confirmatory referendum as soon as possible, and not a ‘general’ election which by its nature mixes up a whole load of other issues. It’s no surprise Boris Johnson thinks that will be to his advantage. He wants to force the country to accept his version of Brexit by juxtaposing it against the prospect of Corbyn in Number 10, which many people find equally unpalatable because of Labour’s descent into antisemitism, Marxism and threats to national security. Boris mustn’t get away with blackmailing the country in this way.
I am glad to say that MPs from across the Commons are now realising that we must resolve Brexit once and for all with a People’s Vote. And I expect that will be the primary focus of debate when the Commons is allowed to reconvene in mid-October.