Prorogation of Parliament

Before getting too carried away by excited talk of parliament being bypassed, it is important to note that MPs will have the opportunity to debate the government’s approach to Brexit in the run up to the European Council meeting on 17 and 18 October, with key votes on any potential deal we might strike taking place on 21 and 22 October. At this point, when the terms of a prospective deal have been made clear, parliamentarians will be better placed to properly scrutinise the government’s Brexit plans rather than, as presently, doing so in a vacuum.

Though I would not have wished for it to reach this point, the decision to prorogue parliament is not unconstitutional, nor illegal. It is not a coup. It is a permitted use of the powers accorded to the executive. Over the past three years, parliament has had ample time to debate Brexit and prevent a No Deal. Indeed, I voted for the Withdrawal Agreement at every opportunity, while some more self-indulgent colleagues chose instead to play political games which have led us to this precarious juncture.

Looking past the hyperbole, it is important to remember that the government’s primary objective is to leave the EU in a managed way that minimises harm to business and maximises opportunities outside the Single Market. I have always maintained that a No Deal departure would be highly undesirable for both the UK and EU and remain confident that both parties will find a compromise at the eleventh hour that averts such an eventuality. Our best hope of achieving this is if we maintain a credible commitment to No Deal preparations that persuades EU leaders to make concessions. Encouragingly, there are signs that they might be willing to talk, though this would soon dissipate should they sense a Brexit derailment by parliament.

Be assured that parliament will again be given the chance to vote on a final deal with the EU, at which point colleagues must assume responsibility for the immediate future prosperity of the country by voting for the government’s deal and avoiding the calamity of us crashing out on 31 October.

Update: 29.08.2019

I should encourage everyone to read constitutional expert Vernon Bogdanor's excellent piece in the Guardian in which he outlines how parliament's failure led us to its prorogation.