Early Parliamentary General Election

Part of Deferred Divisions – in the House of Commons at 7:57 pm on 4th September 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 7:57 pm, 4th September 2019

The right hon. Gentleman obviously did not hear what I just said. Before he gently interrupted me, I was about to point out that the offer of the election today is a bit like the offer of an apple to Snow White from the Wicked Queen, because what the Prime Minister is offering is not an apple or even an election, but the poison of a no deal. I repeat what I said last night. Let this Bill pass and gain Royal Assent, and then we will back an election—so we do not crash out of the European Union with a no-deal exit.

It is the anti-democratic instincts of this Government that cause us concern. Despite the expressed will of the House to support the Bill debated today, the Conservative peers—the Government’s colleagues in the Lords—have tabled 92 amendments for debate. I really doubt that this is motivated by a desire to improve the legislation; not a bit of it. Instead, it is motivated by a desire to filibuster the Bill—an undemocratic cabal in Downing Street, aligned with an undemocratic and unelected House to override the democratic will of this House expressed in the Bill to which we have just given a Third Reading. If the Government cannot win the argument, they try to shut down debate.

We had the Prime Minister deciding to prorogue Parliament in August, and today he wants to dissolve Parliament to shut down scrutiny. He cannot handle dissent and debate in his own party, and has extraordinarily expelled 21 of his own MPs who voted against him last night. The hypocrisy of this process is phenomenal, from a Prime Minister who twice voted against the former Prime Minister’s Brexit plans.

A general election is not a plaything for a Prime Minister to avoid his obligations, to dodge scrutiny or to renege on commitments. He has committed to renegotiate Brexit, but where is the plan and where are the proposals? If he has a Brexit plan, be it no deal or the new mystery proposal deal of which we have yet to see any information, he should put it before the public in a public vote—a referendum or a general election—and seek a mandate from them. Let the Prime Minister go to Brussels tomorrow and ask for an extension so that he can seek a mandate for his unknown Brexit plan and put it before the people.

The truth is that this motion from the Prime Minister is about playing a disingenuous game that is unworthy of his office. I look forward to the day when his Government and his party, with all the austerity and misery they have heaped on this country, are turfed out of office, and when we prevent this country from crashing out on 31 October, with all the damage—he knows, because he has already seen the documents—that it will do to people’s lives and job prospects in this country. It is a cynical move from a cynical Prime Minister.