Prorogation of Parliament — [Joan Ryan in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:17 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West 5:17 pm, 9th September 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In Kashmir, the internet has been shut down, and there is a lack of reporting on the crackdown by the Indian Government. We also have the events in Hong Kong. Britain is a party to the Chinese-British agreement of 1984, so in some senses what happens in Hong Kong is a matter of foreign policy but, equally, it is not. We will not be able to hold any scrutiny of the Foreign Secretary on that matter either.

There is a whole raft of things over and above legislation, but over that period all that people will be able to see are the party conferences, when only one party’s view will be given. In the week of 20 September, it will be my party’s view, which I will support. Once a year, we get a platform and a fair hearing in the media, but that is not the same as the parliamentary scrutiny that we would have if we were here.

The idea that—this is complementary to the remarks made by my hon. Friend Helen Hayes—we could vote tonight for a general election, hold one and come back with the whole issue of Brexit cleanly resolved is absolute nonsense. In the current circumstances, in what would be a general election with only one issue on the ballot paper, no one can predict what the result would be. That would subvert the general election into a vote on one issue, when it should be about the economy, our health, our education system, our environment and every other issue that is important in the country. That is not the way to deal with Brexit; the only way to deal with it is to confirm the decision of the 2016 referendum, or not, by the Government’s negotiating a withdrawal agreement with the EU. The Prime Minister repeatedly tells us he has almost completed one, although today the Irish Prime Minister said that he had no evidence of any progress on it—I am not sure which Prime Minister I would like to believe at this stage, but on 14, 15, 16 or 17 October we will see which one is correct.