Government defeated on two emergency debates

On Monday 9 September 2019, the Speaker granted two emergency debates (SO24s). Emergency debates are called at short notice in the House of Commons on matters that should have urgent consideration.

Dominic Grieve MP led the first SO24 which called for the publication of Government communications relating to the suspension of Parliament and no-deal Brexit plans, known as Operation Yellowhammer. At the heart of this emergency debate is the simple principle that the Executive should be honest and open with Parliament so as to enable this House properly to scrutinise the Government’s policies and decisions.  Two important decisions underpin this debate. The first is the decision to prorogue the House for five weeks, at what should be the most important and intensive part of the Brexit negotiations. The second is the decision to deny the House the assessment of the preparations for a no-deal Brexit. It is an affront to Parliament and the people to withhold this information.

I voted in favour of the motion that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to direct Ministers to lay before this House, not later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September, the relevant documents. The motion was passed by a majority of 9 (Ayes: 311, Noes: 302).

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn MP, led the second SO24 calling on the Government to comply with the rule of law. The motion was: “That this House has considered the welcome completion of all parliamentary stages of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill and has considered the matter of the importance of the rule of law and Ministers’ obligation to comply with the law.”

The Prime Minister has launched an assault upon Parliamentary sovereignty by seeking to prorogue Parliament early, now he is threatening to launch an assault on the rule of law. The Prime Minister said he would rather “die in a ditch” than abide by the law and request more time for negotiations with the EU. If the Prime Minister were to break the law in this way it could plunge the UK into further chaos and further damage our international reputation. HM Opposition will work cross party and use every mechanism necessary to ensure this the Government abides by the law.

Instead of thinking of ways in which he can break the law the Prime Minister should be outlining his plans for a Brexit deal; he says that he wants a Brexit deal but it has been clear over the past weeks he has done little work to secure this. Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the EU were yet to receive “realistic, legally-binding and workable” plan. The Government is becoming increasingly desperate and continues to take reckless steps in order to cover up for the fact they have made no effort to avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

The motion was resolved without a division.