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Extension of period for forming an Executive

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales) 5:45 pm, 9th July 2019

I rise to offer the SNP’s support for amendments 14 to 17, which stand in the name of Mr Grieve. I commend him for tabling these amendments and ensuring that there is a chance to debate this issue.

It is incredible that it has come to this—that this Parliament requires an amendment to legislation on the governance of Northern Ireland to stop the Executive riding roughshod over the democratically elected Chamber. More and more, the UK Government are like a Marx Brothers film, but without the laughs—a parade of wannabe comedians trying their best to recreate Freedonia in their own image, with the biggest joke of all reserved for when Boris Johnson enters No. 10, perhaps by zipslide. But at least Freedonia was fictitious.

Of course it would be easy for those on the Treasury Bench, now or at some point after the right hon. Gentleman takes his place, to finagle the use of the royal prerogative to prorogue Parliament—that is the benefit of the uncodified, antiquated constitution we have—but there can be no shortcuts to democracy. There can be no running away from the mess the Government have created for themselves and for the country, and no attempt to silence democratically elected Members, no matter how much the Government of the day wish to do so. I wholeheartedly agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, who said:

“If you decide that parliament is an inconvenience, when in fact it is the place where democratic legitimacy lies in our constitution, and therefore it’s acceptable to get rid of it for a period because it might otherwise” stop

“you from doing something that parliament would prevent, then it’s the end of democracy.”