Early parliamentary general election

Part of Early Parliamentary General Election Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 7:30 pm, 29th October 2019

Absolutely, and of course that legislation was cobbled together for the very simple reason that they wanted to keep in with the Liberal Democrats. That was the real purpose of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, and it was one of the most pernicious aspects of the coalition.

I understand, by the way, that part of the coalition deal included a plan to get rid of the 1922 committee. The coalition wanted to bring Ministers into that committee, which would have destroyed it. I fired what could be described as an almighty Exocet, and guaranteed that Ministers would not be allowed to vote—on the pro bono advice that we received from a very eminent QC whom I instructed.

A book by Matthew d’Ancona was brought to my attention a few months ago. On reading it, I found—to my astonishment but great interest—that the then Prime Minister, in a conclave with his closest advisers before the coalition began, was talking about the coalition and how he was going to conduct his Prime Ministership, and he said to those advisers, “I have a choice to make. Am I going to go into a coalition with Nick Clegg or Bill Cash?” I found that most interesting.

That is why this clause stand part debate is highly relevant. We have this extraordinary situation in which the whole issue of an early general election is, largely speaking, the product of all the shenanigans on the Opposition Benches and the other shenanigans with our own colleagues in the House, some of whom lost the Whip and all the rest of it. I strongly believe that this business of having a general election, which, but for this Bill, would not have been put through, is connected with the very reason why people wanted a coalition back in 2010, which was to stop people like me banging on about Europe—I remember the then Prime Minister saying that—but they did not have a chance. That point has to be made.