‘Prorogation’, ‘Suspension of Parliament’, ‘Working Majority’… Every headline is full of catchy words that confuse us all and convince us that we don’t really have any idea what’s going on. So, I am going to attempt to break down what on earth is happening in Parliament, with Brexit… with all of this.
For the record, I am a politics student, therefore I should probably be able to understand what is going on. I really don’t. I’ve got eight browser tabs open as I write this, trying to get my head around this. So, we are learning together.
Right, to start with, ‘to prorogue’ and to ‘suspend parliament’ pretty much means the same thing. It is a dissolution of parliament before the allotted end of the session, with the aim of passing legislation in this time, e.g. Brexit.
A working majority is where a big enough majority of MPs choose to pass through that Government’s legislation in Parliament. Boris hasn’t got this. Not ideal, depending on where your views sit.
Now, let’s do a series of events for what has happened and where we are now…
Cameron’s manifesto promise had to be fulfilled, so a referendum goes down. No one expected the result, but a narrow majority of the country vote ‘Leave’. We are going to be leaving the European Union. Cameron and a string of his supporters are out by July and Theresa May is in. In October May said that Article 50 would be triggered by the March of 2017.
16th of March, trigger legislation is signed into law by the Queen. Oh boy.
Between now, and our next part in the series, there is a lot of faffing, talk over Scotland, talk over Ireland’s fragile state, a lot of going to the EU and coming back with nothing and then…
David Davis, the man in charge of negotiating a deal, resigns. Oh good. Boris Johnson resigns alongside him. And then against all odds, Theresa comes back with a deal. It’s just not a very good one. So, Parliament rejects it. More MPs resign and it all starts getting rather messy.
Deal: rejected. Groovy.
Theresa May after months of negotiating, and having her deal rejected, has to resign, in an emotional speech, thanking her country, and passing on to…
Boris is in.
And then all of a sudden, on the 28th August 2019: Boris Johnson Suspends Parliament With The Queen’s (conventional) agreement.
The Queen has to agree to these things due to constitutional convention, and it is legal to do within The Fixed Term Parliament’s Act of 2011. A Scottish court attempted to contend against the legality of it and lost, going to appeal.
The suspension would be 5 weeks long, uncommonly long for such a piece of legislation.
So, after this, MPs aimed in a day to get a movement through Parliament to stop a no-deal Brexit. MPs agreed to it, trashing the majority of the Conservative Party, leaving many sacked, or resigning, and the Lords are expected to do the same. Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson’s own brother, has resigned.
Now, a General Election is what Boris Johnson is chasing down, but many think it is an unfavourable option and would be ineffectual and cumbersome. Many believe it would lead to a rise in seats for the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party. So… What next?
That, I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that History GCSE textbooks for ten years time really are writing themselves and while the Conservative Party gets slimmer, the independent candidates on an election ballot will grow in number. Our Government and our future in the European Union remain uncertain and precarious.