Early parliamentary general election

Part of Early Parliamentary General Election Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley 7:00 pm, 29th October 2019

[Interruption.] Somebody said “too long,” and I think he has a point.

Let us be fair: neither 9 December nor 12 December is ideal. I have not fought a general election in December. It last happened in the 1920s, and I am not that old, even though I may look it at times. The timing is not ideal because, yes, it is close to Christmas and, yes, people’s minds are on other things, but the fact is we are not in an ideal situation.

The referendum was in 2016 and, three and a half years on, we still have not left the European Union because of all the wranglings of this place. There has been paralysis on this issue. We have had extension after extension, and the public have just about had enough.

I recently did a tour of about 12 villages in my constituency over two days, and I talked to a lot of people. They told me, “If we can’t get Brexit done, let’s have an early general election.” They did not specify whether 9 or 12 December is the best date. In fact, there was speculation that the general election might even be on 10 or 11 December, but that has clearly been taken out of play because we are now talking about only 9 or 12 December.

My constituents told me, “If Parliament can’t get Brexit done, at least give us the opportunity to look again at the composition of Parliament.” A number of our colleagues will be leaving anyway. Some of them were going to leave in 2020, but of course the previous election came early. They decided to hang on, probably expecting this Parliament to go five years, which no longer looks likely.

If, for whatever reason, we do not have an election on 9 or 12 December, who is to say the paralysis we have experienced over the past 12 months on this one issue will not spread to other legislation? I know people argue that we should have gone on after the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill got its Second Reading, but the fact is that 217 Labour Members voted against Second Reading. They did not want any scrutiny at all. They did not care, they were just totally opposed to the Bill going into Committee to see what amendments would be tabled. It is not as if we did not have a chance.

I understand those MPs who say, “Well, we do not like 9 or 12 December, because it is too dark and too wet,” but I just think people want it over. There was an opportunity to have had the election on 15 October. We offered that date, and whoever got elected could have decided to ask for an extension to article 50 or could have continued with the withdrawal agreement Bill, and we would have left on 31 October. That has not happened, so it is either 9 or 12 December.