by Dominic Byrne
We’re weeks away from the very real prospect of a no-deal Brexit. It is ludicrous that parliament continues to be on its summer holiday, faced with such a catastrophic possibility.
MPs have been away from Westminster since 25 July and are not due to return until 3 September. Faced with what is certainly a constitutional crisis and potentially a national economic and social crisis, they should cut short their holiday.
Barely a day went by in the three months before the original Brexit deadline of March 31 without parliament taking the opportunity to debate Brexit and challenge the government. In contrast, the tradition of a summer recess is letting the government off the hook and many fear, hopefully wrongly, that September may be too late. But why take the chance? MPs should return early. And if they don’t, the people should have the power to recall parliament early.
Make no mistake about the importance of the role of parliament in the next two months. The Government has embarked on a crash course to deliver Brexit at all costs, regardless of what is best for the country. An October Brexit, almost certainly with no-deal, has become the only way Johnson can save the Conservative Party. Failure to deliver will see his party split. Any further extension will pose an existential threat so great that it is hard to see the party surviving in its current form.
Johnson is acutely aware of what’s at stake, both for his time as PM and for the future of the Tories. That’s why he’s embarking on a reckless gamble, putting the future of his party ahead of the future of the country. And there seems no limit to the sacrifices he seems prepared to offer up to get his way. The Good Friday agreement, the union with Scotland, food and medical shortages, and the market viability of many industries are all ready to be piled on the Johnson Brexit bonfire.
Parliament is generally recalled as a result of events of major national importance with the respective speakers taking a decision as to whether the House of Commons or House of Lords should be recalled. The difficulty is that the speakers’ decisions are usually taken following a request from the government and the current government has no interest in parliament sitting. Indeed, it is even flirting with proroguing parliament when it is due to be sitting in the Autumn.
In the absence of a clear way to recall parliament, there is a petition on the parliamentary petitions website. The message is simple: “Recall Parliament immediately to urgently debate no-deal Brexit.” You can find it here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/269140. Sign it now to show your support for parliament acting sooner rather than later to prevent a disastrous no-deal Brexit.
Dominic Byrne is a member of the Nottingham People’s Vote campaign.