This morning, I received the attached letter from the Prime Minister saying that, subject to agreement, Parliament would meet for around two weeks in September and return on 14th October.
There has understandably been a lot of consternation about the PM’s decision to request that Parliament be prorogued. We need to put this in perspective as, by my calculation, there will not be a huge difference in the amount of time Parliament could be sitting.
The Prime Minister has decided that the Government’s sole focus for September must be to secure an ‘amended deal’ with the EU so that we can leave in an orderly way, with a close relationship with our neighbours and allies at the end of October. In order to achieve this ‘amended deal’ the PM will require the EU to make some concessions, and in order to do this the PM wants to ensure that the EU understands that we are serious about being prepared to leave with or without ‘a deal’ on 31st October.
I understand that the current situation is nerve wracking. The deal negotiated by Theresa May has failed to pass three times. Some movement on ‘a deal’ is essential. I am somewhat reassured by the recent comments made by leaders of European countries and the EU, following the meetings they had with the PM, about the desire to agree an ‘amended deal’ with the U.K. I have always felt it was in everyone’s best interest to reach ‘a deal’.
Consistently, over time, I have done and will continue to do everything that I can to ensure that we leave the EU with ‘a deal’ that protects jobs, the economy and enables us to continue to enjoy good relationships with our neighbours and allies. I have spoken to the PM about this and have been assured that it is his intention. I think the PM should be given the opportunity to try and secure an ‘amended deal’ that will be supported by Parliament. I understand that there are people inside and outside Parliament who want to stop Brexit but I am a democrat and the results of the EU Referendum and the last General Election should be delivered. Both the Conservative and Labour Party manifestos committed us to leave the EU.
When we return to Parliament on 14th October, it will be a new session. In between General Elections there are sessions of Parliament, usually lasting a year but the current one has lasted two. A new session will enable the new Government to set out their plans for legislation in a ‘Queen’s Speech’. As the PM says in his letter, “A central feature of the legislative programme will be the Government’s number one legislative priority, if a new deal is forthcoming at EU Council, to introduce a Withdrawal Agreement Bill and move at pace to secure its passage before 31 October.” He goes onto say:
“I fully recognise that the debate on the Queen’s Speech will be an opportunity for Members of Parliament to express their view on this Government’s legislative agenda and its approach to, and the result of, the European Council on 17-18 October. It is right that you should have the chance to do so, in a clear and unambiguous manner.
“I also believe it is vitally important that the key votes associated with the Queen’s Speech and any deal with the EU fall at a time when parliamentarians are best placed to judge the Government’s programme. Parliament will have the opportunity to debate the Government’s overall programme, and approach to Brexit, in the run up to EU Council, and then vote on this on 21 and 22 October, once we know the outcome of the Council. Should I succeed in agreeing a deal with the EU, Parliament will then have the opportunity to pass the Bill required for ratification of the deal ahead of 31 October.”
On Monday 9 September both Houses of Parliament will debate the motions on the first reports relating to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019. This is as a direct result of the action I took to make sure Parliament is sitting in September.
I am a passionate supporter of our parliamentary democracy and I will continue is to do everything that I can to protect and promote it.
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