THE ink is not even allowed to dry on the page, before the next chapter of our national crisis is cast. It was the working classes that had to fight the elite to have a voice in the heart of our democracy, and now the elite is taking this away, through suspending Parliament, and any scrutiny of the Prime Minister over Brexit at this time.
Boris Johnson was elected leader of his party by just over 90,000 people, to then assume the office of Prime Minister and have, as he sees it, ‘the say’ over the future of the 70 million people living in our country. Removing the role of Parliament means that he believes that he can dictate the terms of our future relationship with the EU, or no relationship as is more likely, without question or debate.
It may be a game to him, with all the theatre of sending his team to the castle for an edict from the monarch.
But when it is working people who cannot afford food and fuel due to the cost of living rising so sharply, or lose their jobs as companies move business across the English Channel, or essential medicines which cannot get through the delays at our borders, it will be our families and our communities that will pay the price. This all demonstrates how the Prime Minister’s thirst for power will stop at nothing.
It is straight exploitation for his own political gain.
This is why I went to Westminster this week to sign the ‘Church House Declaration’ which says: “Shutting down Parliament would be an undemocratic outrage at such a crucial moment for our country, and a historic constitutional crisis.
“Any attempt to prevent Parliament sitting, to force through a no-deal Brexit, will be met by strong and widespread democratic resistance.
“We pledge to work together across parties and across our nations to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the people’s voice is able to be heard.”
The People’s Parliament met following a successful meeting of all the opposition parties (except for the DUP, who were given over a £1bn for their support of Government). Jeremy Corbyn, as the Leader of the Opposition, called and led the meeting to find a way forward. All parties reached consensus. This is what can happen when true democratic leadership is applied. It is what Labour does so well.
Discussions looked at how our Parliament can continue to have a role. They examined the political and legal channels available to ensure that not only should Parliament have a say, but in the light that Brexit has driven us into a constitutional crisis, that the people of our country, the people that all of this affects, can have a say on how we resolve this mess.
I have always respected the choices people made in 2016. I believe everyone voted with the best of intentions for the future of our country, whether Leave or Remain. I believe that people wanted the best for their communities, their families and their country. However, no one voted for a national crisis such as we find ourselves in today.
No one voted for their Parliament to be silenced.
Blocking Parliament means that the urgent issues like sorting out social care – or building the houses that people need – are ignored once again. Blocking Parliament means that MPs cannot speak up for the people who have elected them to do a job, to ask every question of those who control our country.
It is a constitutional outrage.
Of course, Brexit will not be concluded at the end of this. We have no trade arrangements in place, no security arrangements in place with the EU, no environmental standards in place at a time of a climate emergency and no future relationship. Two million EU citizens do not know if they are coming or going, as the Home Office can’t process their applications for ‘Settled Status’ fast enough.
This is causing major uncertainties within the agricultural sector and the NHS we are so proud of, doesn’t know how many nurses, doctors or other healthcare workers it will have by the end of October.
Meanwhile, paying trade tariffs will simply add a premium onto our already stretched budgets as we stand at the checkout after the weekly shop.
We simply cannot afford years and years of this continuing. I want us to move on to really making a difference for the people I represent; I believe that this is best achieved from within the EU, fighting for change there.
We cannot go back in time, but this latest episode demonstrates how our whole political system needs to be overhauled – locally, nationally and with the EU and global institutions.
This is something Labour wants to do so we can all truly have more control over our lives. This is why I want to see a Labour government, and that moment cannot come soon enough.
Rachael Maskell is the Labour MP for York Central and the Shadow Rail Minister.