Democracy strikes back: Corbyn secures emergency debate on May’s attempt to force her Brexit on us all

All stand: Every Labour MP got on their feet to support Mr Corbyn’s motion – and many Conservatives. They didn’t have to; a lack of objections would have been enough. They did it to show the strength of their feelings.

MPs on both sides of the House of Commons have supported a bid to force Theresa May to accept their decision on whether to delay the “meaningful vote” on her lousy Brexit deal, rather than letting her force the delay on them.

A three-hour debate was set to be held today (Tuesday, December 11) on whether Parliament should approve her postponement.

Mr Corbyn said Mrs May was ignoring a decision of Parliament to hold a debate and a vote and, in doing so, was disregarding Parliament and the rights of the House of Commons.

He demanded that the government should seek the approval of the House of Commons to defer the vote as this was the only way to honour the terms of the original decision on the business of the House.

He said: “On Tuesday 4 December, the House unanimously agreed a business motion that sets out the rules and timetable governing the meaningful vote debate. The Prime Minister has today unilaterally announced that she will ‘defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow, and will not proceed to divide the House at this time’.

“Neither the Prime Minister nor the Leader of the House has confirmed the date for the conclusion of the debate or the votes. This shows a disregard for Parliament and the rights of the House, as well as of the 164 Members who have spoken in the debate and those who are planning to do so. Once again, the decisions of Parliament are being ignored.

“It is clear, as the Prime Minister admitted in her statement, that she has decided to avoid a heavy defeat on her deal in the House of Commons tomorrow. Again, Parliament is being given no opportunity to express its view on her negotiation.

“It cannot be right that the Government can unilaterally alter the arrangements once this House has agreed on a timetable without the House being given the opportunity to express its will.

“The public will look at the behaviour of this Government and how they treat their democratically elected representatives with despair. Our constitution works on the basis that Governments control the business of the House because they have a majority in the House. The Government appear to be avoiding a vote on a change of business because they fear that they do not command a majority. We have no indication when the debate will be resumed or completed.

“The Government’s incompetence cannot be used as an excuse to threaten the country with no deal. It is vital that the Government treat Parliament with respect, honour the terms of the original business of the House motion as agreed and therefore seek the approval of the House, not act by Prime Ministerial fiat, to defer the meaningful vote.”

Mr Corbyn’s application was timely – and important: According to the House of Commons Twitter account, if the “meaningful vote” is delayed, it might not take place until March 28 – the day before the UK leaves the European Union.

So it should be a matter of pride for every MP who stood in support of Mr Corbyn’s motion – on both the Opposition and government benches.

The voting requirement on motions like this is for an MP to object – not for them to show their support. Nobody did so.

But every Labour MP stood up for Mr Corbyn anyway – along with some Conservatives:

Mrs May thought she could ride roughshod over the will of Parliament last week. She was wrong – and her government became the first in history to be held in contempt of Parliament as a result.

It seems likely she’ll be wrong again.

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One Comment

  1. SteveH December 11, 2018 at 1:54 am - Reply

    It has certainly been a ‘fun’ day, we’ve even had a government minister doing a runner.

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