Prorogation (Disclosure of Communications)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:54 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 5:54 pm, 9th September 2019

I do agree with my hon. Friend.

It is regrettable that we are compelled to use this process of a Humble Address, but the reason is obvious. Today’s measure speaks to a wide truth, which has been touched on a number of times by the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, and I am sad to say that it is the basic lack of trust that now exists between this House and the Executive. That has changed in recent weeks. That lack of trust arises very much from the actions of the Prime Minister over the last weeks, which have contributed hugely to it. That alone should be a profound cause of concern to all Members of this House, because in my experience—only four years plus—this House operates on the basis of trust. That trust is going, day by day, and that is why this application has had to be made. That is a concern to all of us and it should be a concern to the Secretary of State.

Let me take the two issues one by one. At this stage of the Brexit process, the House should be sitting as often as possible. Frankly, we should be sitting every day until 31 October. Instead, we have a five-week Prorogation. The Prime Minister and other Ministers say that this is to allow for a Queen’s Speech and a new legislative agenda. If anybody believes that, they will believe anything. As the Secretary of State is likely to try to make that case—I say “try” because I do not think he will succeed—I have two questions. First, why now? Why prorogue now at such a crucial time? What is wrong with proroguing in November when we know the outcome of the negotiations and have a decision? Secondly, why five weeks? There is no requirement for Parliament to be prorogued for five weeks.