They’re right to do so. They need to set an example – London is now in Tier 4 – and the advent of virtual debates, and electronic voting, would be far more advanced if it wasn’t for the obstructive behaviour of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg over Covid risks.
And while there will be little of the highly-charged political drama and chicanery that characterised Brexit, notably as Theresa May’s authority ebbed away, Parliament’s first post-Christmas sitting since the war will still be momentous.
As Mr Johnson has repeatedly said, Brexit was about sovereignty, namely Britain taking back control of its laws, and this was self-evident when every word, and clause, negotiated by his predecessor, and every attempt to make progress, was thwarted.
Contrast this with today when a 1,200-word treaty, one which will have repercussions for business and the wider economy, for decades to come will effectively go through on the nod, and probably unread by a great many MPs, as a result of Labour’s acquiescence as Sir Keir Starmer, the leading Remainer, tries to draw a line under Brexit.
This is why David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary, is right to express concern at the lack of scrutiny and why approval should be in principle until the fine-print is studied – the process now being followed by the European Parliament. And while Mr Johnson will point to the proximity of the New Year’s Eve cut-off point, he does need to remember that it will be a betrayal of the sovereignty argument he has long championed if Parliament cannot properly scrutinise his government.
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