The period of prorogation proposed by Boris Johnson is the longest in the last forty years. In that respect, it is not quite unprecedented but it is extremely unusual and certainly in the context of the October 31st No Deal Brexit deadline wholly undemocratic and deeply disturbing.
It is normally a non-contentious and cross-party decision but not always. It was used in 1628 by the Monarch King Charles 1st to dispense with the nuisance of having his rule subjected to any scrutiny or challenge. It ended up lasting 11 years and gave birth to the English civil war which left the bold Monarch without his crown or his head, literally.
It was used again in 1997 by a decaying John Major government anxious to prevent two Tory MP’s being subjected to embarrassing scrutiny over the ‘cash for questions’ scandal. Within weeks, however, Parliament was dissolved for a General Election and Major and his party were trounced and turfed out of office.
Yesterday a man who secured the Prime Ministerial portfolio with the votes of fewer than 100,000 voters, all of them Tory party members, decided to severely restrict the right of Parliament to debate, question and scrutinise his actions in connection with Brexit and everything else he is responsible for. A man with the support of 0.13% of the UK’s 46.1 million registered voters effectively assaulted parliamentary democracy.
He has been held accountable to Parliament for only one day since being installed and now he has arranged to avoid any democratic accountability for 5 weeks from 11th/12th September to 14th October. His actions have been described as ‘authoritarian’, ‘tyrannical’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘outrageous’. They are all accurate depictions.
Don’t buy the crap that he is doing this to force the hand of the EU27 and wring from them a new and better Brexit deal. There is no new or better Brexit deal available on the basis of May’s blue lines and multiple conditions. What took years to agree will not be re-written in a matter of weeks. In 63 days’ time, the UK will leave the EU without a deal and that is Johnson’s objective. He will then begin the process of opening up the UK to damaging and predatory trade deals with the US which will endanger the public health service and education system. The informal 51st State of America status will be made formal.
Even his own Cabinet members used to stridently oppose proroguing Parliament to allow a No Deal Brexit to proceed by default. Health Secretary Matt Hancock launching his Tory leadership bid said:
"There's this idea from some people that to deliver Brexit we should suspend our parliamentary democracy - that we should prorogue Parliament. But that goes against everything that those men who waded on to those beaches fought and died for (on D-Day) and I will not have it."
"A policy on Brexit to prorogue Parliament would mean the end of the Conservative Party as a serious party of government."
Strangely Mr Hancock was ‘unavailable for comment’ yesterday. Hopefully, his latter comment will prove accurate.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd was equally clear during the Tory leadership contest:
"I think it's outrageous to consider proroguing Parliament. We are not Stuart kings."
Chancellor Sajid Javid gave us his tuppence worth during the Channel 4 leadership debate:
"You don't deliver on democracy by trashing democracy. We are not selecting a dictator of our country, we are selecting a prime minister of our country."
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said a lot of stinging things about Johnson’s lack of suitability to lead the Tories or the UK during the debate but on proroguing Parliament he said on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show:
"I think it will be wrong for many reasons. I think it would not be true to the best traditions of British democracy."
While brimming with righteous indignation on the BBC’s Question Time Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan opined:
"Proroguing Parliament is clearly a mad suggestion. You cannot say you are going to take back control ... and then go: 'Oh, by the way, we are just going to shut Parliament down for a couple of months, so we are just going to drift out on a no-deal'."
That this motley crew of Tory shysters endorsed the Johnson decision yesterday to do precisely what they railed against a matter of weeks ago exposes their utter lack of integrity, honesty and credibility. They are Tory politicians after all; they are especially accomplished liars in a profession full of them.
There is now only a tiny window of opportunity for those in Parliament who profess to oppose vehemently a No-Deal Brexit. A Labour motion of No Confidence in Johnson has to be moved next week and carried. After fourteen days expires without Johnson being able to form a new government with a majority he will be dismissed automatically and Corbyn installed on a strict time-limited basis to move an extension to the October 31st deadline and call a General Election for mid-October.
There is no time for emergency legislation to effect the prevention of No-Deal and if the No Confidence motion is delayed until October No-Deal Brexit will proceed before a general election can be held due to the stipulations contained in the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011.
Either the MP’s who bump their gums constantly about preventing No-Deal Brexit support the No Confidence motion and interim Corbyn Prime Minister role or they expose themselves as empty hypocrites whose words are meaningless.
Words are important and the challenge to the SNP now is to stand up to the plate. Nicola Sturgeon is both Scotland’s elected First Minister and leader of the SNP. She used strong words on the BBC News last night. She condemned Boris Johnson’s proroguing of Parliament for five weeks in bold terms. It was ‘not a democracy’ she said, it was ‘dictatorship’. Unless reversed by Parliament next week it would go down in history as ‘the day UK democracy died’.
Well over a million people clearly agree with Nicola and have signed the public petition calling on Parliament to prevent the proroguing from taking place.
However, words in the midst of such a dangerous, tyrannical, authoritarian and sinister move by Boris Johnson’s right-wing collection of zealots simply won’t suffice. Actions speak louder than words and bold action is now both appropriate and necessary to oppose Johnson’s assault on democracy.
Those who wish to save England and Wales from a No Deal Brexit should deploy rallies, marches and civil disobedience to make the MP’s listen. But in Scotland, the landscape and objective has to be different.
Scotland didn’t vote for Brexit. It was decisively rejected by 62% of those who voted. The SNP already possess a democratic mandate to arrange IndyRef2 based on the ‘material changes’ adversely affecting Scotland since 2014 and the first referendum. Brexit is not the only ‘material change’ which justifies IndyRef2 but it is the most widely understood and recognised. The SNP cannot afford to be meek or indecisive in the face of the current crisis. Nicola said yesterday represented the ‘day UK democracy died’ so one of two things must inevitably flow from that assessment.
If a No Confidence vote succeeds next week and a snap General Election is arranged for October the SNP Manifesto must contain an actual date for IndyRef2 to take place in 2020 should they win a majority of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats. No ifs, buts or maybes. A cast-iron commitment attached to a date.
If, however, the No-Confidence motion fails next week or doesn’t materialise and No Deal Brexit on 31st October becomes inevitable, emergency legislation to arrange IndyRef2 on that 31st October day has to be introduced. Scotland cannot be abused any further.
UK democracy is dead. We don’t seek permission from a broken Westminster we inform them of our intention and we convene the emergency poll.
Failure to take such action will undermine the authority of the SNP and demotivate the hundreds of thousands who form the independence movement and vote SNP based on their independence raison d’etre. The SNP has already spent far too much time trying to save Britain from Brexit. It must concentrate fully now on saving Scotland from Britain.
On Saturday I am a guest speaker at the Forward As One march and rally in Scotland’s ancient capital of Dunfermline. I urge as many independence advocates and supporters as possible to join us in a massive show of strength to send out the message loud and clear. Britain is broken beyond repair and now is the time for Scotland to rise as a modern, inclusive, progressive and independent nation.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson can’t stomach Boris and has resigned. We can’t stomach him either or her Scottish Tory chums. We demand to get the governments we vote for and for the last 64 years we haven’t voted Tory. Independence means freedom to choose who governs us, national self-respect and no more Tory governments. See you in Dunfermline.
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.