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Monday, January 20, 2020

Has Johnson thrown another dead cat onto the table?

In politics there is a technique known as throwing a dead cat onto the table, entirely metaphorical of course, the objective of which is to distract people from more important matters.

Boris Johnson is a past master at this, or at least that is the charitable view of some of his madcap schemes, so one should be forgiven for thinking that the proposal to move the House of Lords to York is one such instance.

According to the Independent, the prime minister is believed to be keen to take advantage of plans for the restoration of the crumbling Palace of Westminster, which already requires moving some 800 peers to another building for six years from 2025, to carry out the move.

What I am not clear on is how this fits into any wider constitutional review, as it seems that splitting the two houses will just add to expense, bureaucracy and inconvenience. Can you imagine the House of Commons piling onto a train to meet the monarch in York, for example, for the state opening of Parliament?

And what does it change? Putting 800 unelected men and women in the twilight of their political careers into some northern city is hardly going to tackle the disconnect between politicians and the general population. Now if it was the MPs, then that would be a different matter.

If Johnson is serious about constitutional reform then he would abolish the unelected Lords altogether and replace it with an elected second chamber of the regions and nations with half the number of members. He won't do that, because that would mean actually effecting real democratic change and that is not something that is on the Prime Minister's agenda.

Now then, about those Brexit trade deals.....
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