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Sunday, January 13, 2019

A very British Coup?

The Sunday Times characterises an attempt by senior MPs to seize control of Brexit negotiations and side line the prime minister by rewriting the standing orders of the House of Commons as a “very British coup”, but the real surprise is that it has taken so long to get to this point.

The paper says that at least two groups of rebel MPs are plotting to change Commons rules so motions proposed by backbenchers take precedence over government business, upending the centuries-old relationship between executive and legislature.

They say that Downing Street believes that would enable MPs to suspend article 50, putting Brexit on hold, and could even lead to the referendum result being overturned — a move that would plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.

Government Chief Whip, Julian Smith is quoted as saying, “Such an attempt represents a clear and present danger to all government business. Without control of the order paper, the government has no control over the House of Commons and the parliamentary business and legislation necessary to progress government policies. The government would lose its ability to govern.”

In normal circumstances one might have sympathy for this position, but the one thing that has become very clear since the 2017 General Election is that the government lost control over the House of Commons, parliamentary business and legislation some time ago, has been in capable of governing since May produced her Brexit deal, and has not got a clue how to resolve the Brexit mess they got us into.

Any Prime Minister capable of governing would be able to block these changes to standing orders and carry on as normal. The fact that they believe they will lose this vote, just reinforces its necessity. If Ministers cannot command the confidence of the House of Commons on one of the most fundamental and far-reaching issues of the day, then MPs must take the initiative and do it for them. That is what we elected them for.

Isn't that what 'taking back control' meant? Or was that another one of those ambiguous phrases designed to win support whilst propping up the establishment? For once the Brexiteers are reaping what they sowed.
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