“the largest minority party which is prepared, in the event of the resignation of the Government, to assume office”.
The current official Opposition has lost two thirds of its shadow Cabinet. Their leader and what remains of the Front-Bench team no longer command the support of the overwhelming majority of their Back Benchers. They can now no longer provide shadow Ministers for large Departments of State. They are clearly in no shape to assume power or to meet the key responsibilities outlined in “Erskine May”. Given these obvious failings, what steps would now need to be taken to have the official Opposition replaced with one that can meet the responsibilities set out clearly in “Erskine May”?
I am familiar with “Erskine May”, as the hon. Gentleman would expect, and I am genuinely grateful to him for giving me notice of his point of order. I can confirm that the Labour party currently constitutes the official Opposition and that its leader is recognised by me, for statutory and parliamentary purposes, as the Leader of the Opposition. He will have noticed that I called the Leader of the Opposition earlier to ask a series of questions of the Prime Minister. He will also be aware that today we have Opposition business duly chosen by the Leader of the Opposition, as indicated on the Order Paper. I should perhaps add that in making these judgments and pronouncing in response to points of order, I do give, and have given, thought to the matter, and I have also benefited from expert advice. These matters are not broached lightly. I understand the vantage point from which he speaks, but he raised the question and I have given him the answer. We will leave it there for now.