I forecast in my last article that some of my colleagues might find themselves on the ‘naughty step’ before the week was up. That forecast came to pass and then some. Where I got it wrong was that they didn’t find themselves with a simple telling off, as is usual when MPs go against the Party’s whipped line, they found themselves expelled from the class. I’ve rebelled on numerous occasions, but this was entirely different as the vote in question under a procedure usually used to grant an emergency debate was flexed to give the opposition control of Parliament’s Order Paper – effectively handing government temporarily to those who, via the millions of ballot papers cast in 2017, were not strong enough to form a government. What then came to pass was Parliament passing a major constitutional Bill over just four hours of debate and limited scrutiny to demand a further costly extension to Brexit. Whichever side of the Brexit fence you prefer, it can never be right to pass hasty, poorly drafted legislation in just four hours. None of this is about ‘soft’ Brexit, ‘hard’ Brexit or preventing ‘no deal’. These people want to stop Brexit entirely.
The correct way for the opposition to take control is to call for a vote of no confidence in the government. They did not do this. The other way of taking control is for a general election to allow the public, those we are elected to serve, to take the decision as to whom they want on the government benches. We entered the world of the truly bizarre as for the first time in history, the opposition declared they don’t want an election, despite calling for one for years. If opposition parties don’t want the chance to form a government, one starts to question what they are for at all. It was curious that protesters outside my Broadstairs office recently were holding up ‘General Election now’ placards. I want an election, the Conservative Party wants an election, the country needs an election and I agree with the placard wavers. Perhaps they could get a message through to Jeremy Corbyn’s office and allow us one.
So we’re now saddled with the curious European Union (Withdrawal) (No.6) Act which requires the Prime Minister to beg for an extension to 31st January 2020. Extension of membership under Article 50 requires both parties to agree. The Act further requires that if the 31st January 2020 is not acceptable to the EU, then the PM must accept any date offered. Presumably this could mean years. The EU must be laughing; they have little to no incentive to see sense over a revised ‘deal’, why would they whilst they know there are hundreds of British MPs willing to do their work for them and continue the monthly cash payments of over a £billion per month. It is not easy to see a way through this. The PM is robustly maintaining that we’re leaving on 31st October come what may. The government faces a Supreme Court hearing on whether the recent ‘Prorogation’ of Parliament was lawful. And yet the simple means of resolving all differences – by having a general election is closed off under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act requiring a 2/3rds majority of all MPs to allow one. Confused?
Great news for Thanet last week with £millions on its way under the Stronger Towns Fund and the Heritage High Streets Fund which will target Ramsgate for action. Retail is changing, and we’re all responsible for that with online shopping. High Streets need to become places of leisure, entertainment and enjoyment; a place to visit in their own right, because, shopping incentive aside, they are great places to be. Coastal towns are well placed to find this new role, not least because of the spending power of visitors and tourists. We are well placed to ride the wave of employment and economic success.