I am writing to update you on the extraordinary events that are taking place in our country. As my constituent, I consider it is my duty to let you know where I stand on these issues and what action I propose to take.
The Prime Minister is proroguing parliament in order to take the UK out of the European Union without having any agreement in place about the future terms of our trade or security arrangements. I believe that he is wrong, both in what he is trying to achieve, and in the unconstitutional way he is going about achieving it.
Prorogation is simply a technical manoeuvre to prevent parliament legislating to ensure the government does not take the UK out of the EU without a deal. Some cabinet ministers, embarrassed by their own previous dismissal of the very idea of Prorogation, are now trying to claim that this is only an extended conference recess. Here is the difference: Parliament can be recalled in a recess; in Prorogation it cannot. Prorogation normally lasts 8 days. This one lasts 5 weeks!
In fact the last time we had an extended Prorogation was in 1997 when the Conservative Prime Minister, John Major, wanted to prevent Parliament from holding the government to account for the Cash for Questions Scandal before the General Election. Ironic then, that even John Major has now joined in to support the legal challenge to the Prime Minister to stop this Prorogation.
On the question of leaving the European Union without a deal, it is important to recall what Brexiteer ministers said at the time. We were told that this would be “the easiest deal in human history”. And “We will have forty new Free Trade Agreements lined up ready to go for 1 minute after midnight on Brexit day”. Well, after three years that is not quite how it has turned out! But the point here is not to look back and mock the hubris and overconfidence of ministers, it is to be clear that leaving without a deal was never a prospect put to the British people. Those who voted to leave, voted to leave with a deal that set out clearly our trade and security relations. The Prime Minister has no mandate for No Deal.
It was interesting to me that the first person to speak on the Stop the Coup demonstration in London last weekend was actually a leave voter. He said he voted to leave to take back control to our sovereign parliament, not to have our sovereign parliament silenced by an unelected prime minister!
Last week the Leader of the Labour Party met with all the other minority party leaders and there was a unanimous agreement that we must put the country before party. That is why we have determined that we will pursue a legislative solution that tries to ensure that the UK does not leave the EU without a deal. Many Conservative members of Parliament are agreed on this course of action and will be supporting the emergency motion that I will be backing today. Some of those people want to leave the EU, many of us do not, but all of us are agreed that a no deal departure would have disastrous consequences for our country. That is why, putting aside party political differences, we will try to secure a binding piece of legislation to that end.
I do not believe that the Prime Minister actually wants a deal. Despite meeting Chancellor Merkel more than two weeks ago, he has still not put forward any proposals to the EU setting out alternative arrangements to the backstop. That is because there are none. Remember he was the Foreign Secretary at the start of the negotiations, David Davis was the first Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab was the second: they could not find an alternative to the backstop then and they do not have one now.
The Prime Minister has threatened to deselect Conservative MPs who vote against him. He has implied that he will call a general election if parliament defeats him this week. I certainly do not shy away from a general election. I would dearly like our country to focus on sorting out the underfunding of our schools, the desperate lack of social care for older people and the scourge of knife crime. This week though, our priority is in working together with MPs all across parliament to protect the country from the ravages of a No Deal disaster.
I trust you will consider that this is the right course of action.