Welcome to my 34th EU Update. Parliament returned from recess this Tuesday 3rd September and things have been progressing significantly. The other 33 EU updates can be viewed here.
I have received an unprecedented volume of correspondence from constituents about Brexit over the last few days, and my team and I are answering them all as soon as we can. If you haven’t already please keep up to date with all I am doing on this by liking my Facebook page and following me on Twitter.
It is a very fast moving picture but I will endeavour to keep you updated.
I WILL BE DOING EVERYTHING TO STOP A NO DEAL.
Prorogation of Parliament
The PM announced on 28 August that he wants to shut down Parliament for five weeks from next week in order to ‘set out his legislative plans’ in a Queen’s Speech on 14th October.
Boris Johnson’s planned suspension of Parliament is an assault on our democracy. This would leave MPs with just two weeks to debate and pass Brexit related legislation before the 31st October deadline. I wrote about this in the Edinburgh Evening News, which you can read here.
Parliament, and the people deserve to have their representatives in Parliament during this vital period. This is the opposite of taking back control. You can see my interview on BBC Scotland News here.
Court of Session Case
You may already be aware about the legal case brought by me and others which looks to test whether the Prime Minister can suspend parliament to railroad through a no-deal Brexit. I was on STV News to talk about this, which you can watch here.
The legal challenge involves more than 75 MPs and peers, working on a cross-party basis.
You can read more about the case in my article for Labour List here.
This court action was initially lodged on 13th August, before the PMs announcement that he will prorogue parliament. As a result of his announcement, we submitted an interim interdict asking the Court of Session in Edinburgh to suspend the Prime Minister’s request that Parliament be suspended. I signed the affidavit and have been working with lawyers urgently ever since.
The motion was heard in the Court of Session last Friday. Lord Doherty rejected the interim interdict against Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament, but a full court hearing was held on Tuesday 3rd September. It was fast-tracked to this week given the public interest.
Unfortunately, the petition was dismissed this morning, but we have now appealed this ruling, and there is another court case taking place in England.
The fight against Boris Johnson’s assault on democracy and his plan to crash the UK out of the EU goes on. It is disappointing that we have had to go to the courts to protect British democracy, but Boris Johnson’s attempt to silence the people’s representatives could not go unchallenged.
Stopping No Deal in Parliament
As well as the legal battle in the Court of Session, the campaign against a no-deal Brexit is also currently taking place in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister has lost his majority and does not have the support of the House for his dangerous plan to impose a no-deal Brexit on the country.
On Tuesday, an ‘emergency debate’ under Standing Order No. 24 took place. Some may remember this process from the Cooper-Letwin Bill earlier in the year.
The full motion for the emergency debate can be found here. MPs voted, by 328 votes to 301, to give precedence on Wednesday 4 September to all the stages of Hilary Benn MP’s Private Member’s Bill. The Bill makes a no deal Brexit illegal.
You may be interested in this briefing from the House of Commons Library explaining the purpose of the Bill and the process as it passes through Parliament. I was also on BBC Scotland Newsdrive to discuss how the Bill moves forward.
MPs then voted by 329 to 300 votes to pass the Bill at Second reading. I supported and voted FOR this Bill. This was another devastating defeat for the Government, although not surprising considering the countless times Parliament has voted to rule out no deal.
The Bill will then face its remaining stages in the Commons before being sent to the Lords.
My thoughts on a General Election
The sight of Jacob Rees-Mogg MP lying across the Government frontbench in the House of Commons earlier this week was one of those picture moments that says a thousand words. The photo showed the sheer arrogance, disrespect, sense of entitlement and contempt for parliament that has been shown by this Tory Government.
Boris Johnson has been wrongly claiming for the last few weeks that he is negotiating with the EU to try and get a better Brexit deal. The EU has said that no meaningful discussions have taken place and the UK Government has provided no potential solutions to the border in Ireland to enable the now infamous backstop to be removed. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, called the bluff of Mr Johnson by challenging him to come up with alternative arrangements in 30 days. No alternatives are being provided as they don’t exist.
The Tories are determined to deliver a no deal Brexit and that would be devastating for our economy. That is not my analysis but that of the PM’s own Government. That is why we are all working, cross-party to try and prevent a no deal Brexit.
The votes this week are the last chance for Parliament to have its say as the PM has decided to take the unprecedented step of suspending parliament for five weeks to prepare for a Queen’s Speech. We are due a Queen’s Speech but the reason the government is doing this is to push ahead with no deal on 31 October. It’s an attempt to sabotage our democracy.
We are in unchartered waters but leaving no stone unturned in trying to prevent a disastrous no-deal Brexit. The waters are so unchartered that the PM booted out 21 of his own MPs for voting against a no-deal Brexit this week. These include the Father of the House Ken Clarke, the Chancellor of just a few weeks back, and the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill. Given that the PM himself voted against his predecessor’s Brexit deal and kept his Conservative whip, it is surely another example of how he views life: one rule for him and another rule for everyone else.
Boris Johnson says we will not have a General Election then proposes a motion to call one. This is a trap. The reason he is now keen for an election is that he could take the UK out of the EU with no deal whist the election is ongoing. He needs 434 MPs to back him under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act but we will not fall for that bear trap.
As an opposition MP I always want a General Election but not if it is a trick to pave the way for no-deal. We must get the Benn Bill on to the statute book and, critically, implemented before we go to the country in a General Election. That can’t happen before 31 October. Otherwise, the unintended consequence may be a no-deal Brexit by the back door.I was on STV News to talk about this.
We must be focused on the national interest and not narrow party politics.
Mr Johnson said, “come what may, do or die, we will leave on 31 October”. Well, if I have anything to do with it we will not be leaving on 31 October with a no-deal and I will continue to fight tooth and nail, through parliament and the courts, to ensure that this PM doesn’t lie and obfuscate his way to a Brexit that will have disastrous consequences across the country for years to come.
We must work tirelessly, across all parties and none, to fight against the devastation of a no-deal Brexit and fight for our democracy. We will also fight to secure a final say for the people of the UK on Brexit and we must campaign to remain in the EU.
A no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for Scotland and the UK, and I and my colleagues are doing everything we can to stop Boris Johnson inflicting such hardship on the people. The final say on Brexit should be handed back to the people.
As many may already be aware, I am a founding member of the People’s Vote campaign through my senior role within Open Britain and Best for Britain. I have been championing for the public to have the final say since I helped launch the campaign back in April 2018. I still think this is going to be the only viable option given the circumstances.
We are working around the clock on this and have been all summer. I will continue to keep constituents updated through my EU updates as things progress.