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Western Mail Article: Stand Down, Boris Johnson, the UK will not be Silenced

September 16, 2019

This week, by shutting its doors and suspending Parliament, the Prime Minister has run away from scrutiny and shut out your right to be heard  - people are right to be infuriated.

The prorogation of this parliamentary session is the longest in many decades and defies ordinary convention.

In normal times, the prorogation of Parliament comes at the end of the natural ebb and flow of a two-year Parliamentary session, after the completion of Bills and usually only takes a few days. But this Prime Minister’s intent is far from conventional and these are no longer normal times.

We are facing a national emergency on a scale not seen since the Three-Day Week in 1974, the Suez Crisis in 1956 or indeed the Second World War.

What we need is grown-up leadership as demonstrated by several Prime Ministers in past crises.  This won’t happen with Johnson.

Instead, this Prime Minister and his unelected team in Downing Street have opted to shut down Parliament in a blatant act of trickery designed to shield his failing Government from scrutiny as he continues towards his reckless drive to No Deal and a damaging hard Brexit.

This is a Prime Minister running away from his duties to both inform and be held to account by Parliament and the people, all the while abusing the office of Prime Minister to campaign ahead of an imminent election.

We heard the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, speak eloquently on the matter in the final stages of Monday night’s debate.

He said of the suspension: “It is not standard, it is one of the longest in decades and it represents, not just in the minds of many colleagues but to huge numbers of people outside, an act of executive fiat”.

I could not agree more.

The Prime Minister claims to be doing this in the name of the people. But by locking MPs out of Parliament for five weeks, on the cusp of a national disaster, he is gagging debate.

In silencing us as MPs, he is silencing the people too. 

I have had many messages and emails from residents angered by the Prime Minister’s immoral and undemocratic decision to sidestep democratic convention. That feeling is certainly shared across the country. It is far from in-keeping with the spirit of our values as an open, free and transparent parliamentary democracy.
This what people voted for in the 2016 referendum. Should you happen to have voted to leave the EU, surely Boris Johnson shutting down Parliament flies in the face of our Parliament taking back control?

Prorogation has not only halted debate on Brexit. It also means we are unable to discuss current diplomatic and humanitarian developments. Crucial issues from climate change to the continued failure of the benefit system will be ignored.

Important Bills like the Agriculture Bill, the Trade Bill or the Domestic Abuse Bill  have now been dropped and will go unheard. My own Bill on Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging and plastic has also been swept aside.

It’s clear the Prime Minister hoped that by suppressing parliamentary democracy he could avoid scrutiny facing him over the Government’s official No Deal analysis. Titled Yellowhammer, the report is deeply troubling. We would face shortages of vital medicines like insulin and short self-life products used in cancer treatments, through to a lack of fresh food grown and imported from our European neighbours. According to Government analysis, No Deal Brexit would also put 1000 jobs in my constituency at risk, yes that’s 1000 jobs, as well as causing chaos for manufacturers and businesses of all sizes who export products into the EU.   

With all that in mind, it’s vital that Parliament should be sitting. And this has been ruled on in the courts. On Wednesday we heard the Scottish Court of Session rule against the shutting down of Parliament. As one of the legal petitioners to the case it was heartening to hear that prorogation has now been deemed unlawful, and we wait on the Supreme Court ruling for England and Wales in the coming days.

But each day Parliament remains shut, the Government are breaking the law.

A huge question now stands, did Boris Johnson mislead the Queen on prorogation? If so, he should resign immediately.

We are all taught that actions have consequences. It is difficult as I write to say what the near future holds for our country, but certainly the Prime Minister’s actions have set a dangerous precedent for our democracy and for our country.

With the country so divided, the only way forward now is for the people should be given the final say in a referendum. A single-issue general election would not do anything to resolve our situation. Only a binding referendum, with proper thresholds could break this deadlock and I will be arguing unambiguously and unequivocally for Remain.

Prorogation does not make the Brexit crisis simply disappear. My job is to defend the best interests of my constituents. I will not allow their jobs and livelihoods to be tarnished by a disastrous No Deal Brexit or allow our economy being tipped into a needless recession or allow families to go hungry. And we know this is set to inflict even more misery on our vulnerable first.

I hope we will return to Parliament before the14th October. But whether we are not recalled or not, whilst the Prime Minister continues to act unlawfully and threaten No Deal, I will continue to speak up for people in my constituency, across Wales and the whole of the UK.

The Prime Minister had hoped prorogation may weaken our resolve, but we are not going quietly.

The people will not be silenced.

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