Jonathan Edwards - Herald Column

Tin Pot Dictatorship Britain

I write this column in my study at home following the quite extraordinary decision of the British Government to prorogue Westminster until the middle of October. Its decision is guided by a simple calculation. It knows it will lose votes in the House of Commons in early September as Members of Parliament do their jobs and protect the interests of their constituents against the reckless Brexit policy of the British Government – and therefore its answer is to suspend the House of Commons and the Lords to reduce the opportunity for Members of both Houses to undertake their duty.

 

Speaker Bercow was right to brand the announced a 'constitutional outrage' and say:
"However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of the prorogation now would be to stop parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country."


Forget the Downing Street spin so faithfully projected by some political commentators that this is all normal behaviour for a new government to bring forward its legislative proposals. What the British Government are undertaking is a coup against democracy – the sort of behaviour that we would normally associate with a tin pot dictatorship. The average prorogation for a Queen Speech in modern times is a week. They are proposing a five week suspension which eats up the most precious of political commodities – time.


There were briefly two routes for MPs to stop a no deal Brexit. Firstly a legislative pathway whereby backbenchers assumed control of the order paper to pass legislation prohibiting no deal Brexit. Secondly, the nuclear option of a Vote of No Confidence to create an alternative government – a path that I was first to advocate once Article 50 was triggered and we would inevitably end up in this mess.


In pursuing its prorogation policy, the British Government essentially makes the first course of action less achievable due to time pressure. The Labour Leader in his usual unhelpful manner also helped torpedo this option when he said he would support Mr Johnson if he brought forward a snap election motion – whilst at the same time trying to grandstand that he would support legislative proposals to stop no deal. Corbyn also made the second option less likely by saying it's either him as Prime Minister or else, whilst fully knowing he doesn't have the numbers.


The plain reality is that if the British Government were to lose control of the order paper they would bring forward an election motion. Defeating an election motion was always going to be a key part in enabling legislative proposals to be introduced. An election means no sitting parliament. I still can't make my mind up whether the Leadership of the Labour party are intellectually challenged or complicit. In reality despite the rhetoric the interests of Mr Corbyn and Mr Johnson have always been very much aligned.


It's difficult to know exactly how matters will play out over the next few weeks. It seems to me that all roads increasingly lead to a snap election – not that an election alone will solve the situation.


As I have written many times over recent months – Westminster is going through a collective full scale nervous breakdown. No deal Brexit would mean a decade or more of the current fractious debate on steroids – it is quite literally the political equivalent of pouring petrol on fire. There is only one way to end the chaos and that is to revoke Article 50. If we end up in an election – that is the basis on which I will be seeking re-election as the Member of Parliament for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.


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