This article was published by the Edinburgh Evening News on 28th August 2019. You can also read the Evening News version online, here.
What a democratic outrage.
Just as MPs prepare to return to Parliament after the August recess to tackle the Brexit crisis, Boris Johnson decides he wants to suspend Parliament.
This is an unprecedented attempt to silence the voices of voters that cannot go unchallenged.
And it won’t go unchallenged – I am part of a fast-moving legal process in the courts to prevent the Prime Minister suspending Parliament.
The House of Commons is not Boris Johnson’s plaything. It’s the seat of our democracy, where every single person in the United Kingdom has a representative to fight their corner.
I will continue to fight for the people of Edinburgh who certainly didn’t vote for control to be taken away from them like this.
The only people who shut down parliaments are dictators, not democrats.
There will be many twists and turns in the next few days, both before and after Parliament returns.
But the bottom line is that the law says the UK will leave the EU – with or without a deal – on October 31, and the only way to change this is to change the law.
If Parliament is not sitting, then laws can’t be changed and the hardline Brexiteers get their dream – a devastating no-deal Brexit.
That is why I and 200 colleagues from all parties and none have signed the “Church House Declaration” which states that MPs will not allow democracy to be subverted.
But the crucial issue is that the date in law has to be changed. It can be done and it has been done before. The date was changed from March 29 when the former PM sought an extension to the Article 50 process from the EU.
So, how do we do that? There are two things that must happen. Firstly, and this is the most difficult part, is to get hold of time in the parliamentary timetable. Mr Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament from September 10 makes this harder.
All parliaments are almost completely controlled by the Government, which sets the business and the legislative programme. To create our own law we need to wrestle the business from the Government. Achieving this will be both unprecedented and controversial, and time could be even tighter than we hoped.
The second aspect is to pass the legislation to change the date of withdrawal and force the government to seek that extension from the EU. We have the numbers of MPs from all parties and none.
That was the outcome from the cross-party talks, convened by Labour on Tuesday. All efforts will be directed to getting hold of the parliamentary order paper and passing legislation to prevent a no-deal on October 31 by changing the date.
If that fails, there are other more nuclear options. Bringing down the Government is one of them, but it’s more difficult to achieve.
If there is no candidate who can gain a majority to form a government we would automatically be in the territory of a General Election. That is a huge risk as it would mean there would be no parliament come October 31, and that is what we are trying to avoid.
I’ve been working with like-minded colleagues from all parties on this all summer.
We will use every level at our disposal to prevent a devastating no-deal and get a public vote so you can have the final say on Brexit.