Statement on the Suspension of Parliament

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The Prime Minister has announced that Parliament will be prorogued in the second week of September until a new Queen’s Speech is delivered on 14 October.  I share the dismay expressed by many people about the government’s actions – and the belief that this is a cynical move taken purely in order to avoid parliamentary scrutiny at this crucial time for our country.

Labour are completely opposed to the prorogation of parliament, and to the No Deal Brexit that the government appear ready to accept. Businesses, trade unions and the Government’s own analysis have warned about the disruption No Deal would result in, and the damage it would do to our economy. There is no mandate for this, and Parliament has expressed its opposition to No Deal on several occasions. We are therefore committed to working across Parliament, to do whatever is necessary to stop it happening.

Parliament should be fully involved in the Brexit process – from triggering Article 50 (which I voted against), having a meaningful vote on the final deal and shaping our future relationship with the EU. Indeed, I had been hoping to support plans to reduce the length of the planned party conference recess, and to extend the parliamentary timetable, in order to hold the government fully to account.

The prorogation that will happen in early September will last five weeks.  Prorogation between sessions of Parliament in recent decades has typically lasted less than a week. I believe prorogation at this time is an affront to our democratic principles. As the House of Commons Library has pointed out, long prorogations raise fundamental questions about whether the Government of the day still commands the confidence of a majority of MPs and whether it can still legitimately govern.

I continue to believe that leaving the EU is an historic mistake, and that our best possible relationship with the EU is full membership, and I believe that the decision to leave the EU should go back to the people for another vote. The immediate priority, however, is to avoid crashing out without a deal on 31st October.

Over the next week, and indeed the next two months, I and other Labour MPs will be doing whatever we can to prevent a no deal Brexit. I agree that the best way to achieve this is by passing legislation, and I believe there is a majority in the House of Commons against No Deal which can be galvanised to do this, even with a reduced Parliamentary timetable. We need, however, to be open to all options, and to working across party divides to avoid the prorogation of parliament if possible, and, crucially, to stop a No Deal Brexit.

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