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Prorogation (Disclosure of Communications)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:50 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Labour/Co-operative, Walthamstow 6:50 pm, 9th September 2019

I put my name to this motion for three very simple reasons. I agree with what many Members across the House have said about what our constituents do not understand about what is going on in this place. First, many do not understand the concept of Prorogation. Indeed, one of my constituents thought it was something to do with pierogi—dumplings. They do not understand why, when this country is facing a massive crisis, MPs are upping sticks and going home. When I tell them that it is not of my choosing, they ask “Whose choosing was it?” This motion is about people understanding that process. As Simon Hoare said, it is about asking, “Does it pass the sniff test?” The honest truth is that everything we have seen to date says that it simply does not.

Secondly, my constituents do not really understand the machinations of official channels and the civil service code, but they do get that an unelected cabal of people are making decisions about their future without any accountability. To Government Members who are concerned about the concept of being able to look at private emails, I gently say that they might wish to google the concept and revisit some of the situations that the House had to deal with in 2011 and in 2013, precisely regarding civil servants and special advisers using official channels to conduct official business. I am sure that there are Members on the Front Bench who can tell them of that time and of the clarity that was given that such information would be FOI-able. This is not something new; it is simply about the exigency of seeing that information when we are making decisions.

There is a third thing that my constituents would not really understand. They do not know what a no-deal Brexit entails—nobody really does because, thankfully, we have not yet experienced it—but they do know that there are doctors going on the national airwaves to tell them that the Government are stockpiling body bags, and they are then hearing the Leader of the House discrediting those very same doctors.

There is a simple question at the heart of this motion, which is the question that I suspect all our constituents, whether we represent leave or remain constituencies, have been asking us over the last couple of weeks: what on earth is going on? The honest truth, if we want to talk about truth in this place, is that none of us can really answer those questions, because we have not seen the homework on why Prorogation has suddenly appeared and what a no-deal Brexit would actually mean—whether it is true that 85% of lorries travelling across the channel are not ready for French customs or that the supply of fresh food will be disrupted. The simple truth may even be that if the situation is not as far-fetched as the stories in the press, just publishing Yellowhammer will set everybody’s minds at rest. This motion is about us being able to do what we should be able to do best: inform our constituents, and hold the Government and their advisers to account. I urge everyone to support it.