Friday 20th September

Parliament is still shut down, despite the Brexit crisis looming. The Supreme Court have heard arguments this week for reopening the House of Commons so MPs can find out more from Ministers and Boris Johnson about what exactly will be the fate of our country in just six weeks’ time.

I hope that the Supreme Court will confirm the view of the Scottish Courts that ‘prorogation’ was unlawful and improper, and that Boris Johnson shouldn’t be able to make the Queen sign an order to close the place down in this way. It’s not just Brexit – there have been several important Bills also lost because of this peremptory action: no Trade Bill, no Agriculture Bill, no Domestic Violence or Divorce Reform Bill.

We learn from the media – rather than in Parliament – that Johnson has presented some technical “non-papers” (whatever they are) about the supposed ‘alternative arrangements’ to the backstop safeguarding a border-free Ireland. Irish Deputy PM Simon Coveney said today that while they are hoping for new proposals from the British Government that they have not yet seen anything to justify reopening the Withdrawal Agreement. This afternoon the EU appeared to have assessed these proposals as still requiring a regulatory and customs border.

When Parliament is allowed to return, I do now hope we can opt to resolve this whole dilemma with a final referendum on whether to proceed with whatever Boris Johnson has (or has not) devised, versus remaining in the EU. I will campaign unequivocally for ‘Remain’. It is maddening that today Jeremy Corbyn refused to say he would do so as well. While I understand the LibDem desire for ‘revoke’, I cannot agree that this should just be imposed without a fresh referendum so that this British people can have the final say. ‘Revoke’ should only be used in extremis in order to create space and time for a final referendum to take place. A general election covers too many issues to provide that clear decision. So my efforts will be to achieve a People’s Vote as soon as possible, so we can decide and then move on.

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