Prorogation of Parliament — [Joan Ryan in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:44 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Anna McMorrin Anna McMorrin Labour, Cardiff North 5:44 pm, 9th September 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Ms Ryan. I thank the thousands of people in my constituency who signed the petition to defend democracy against this Prorogation, which certainly is not in the spirit of our values as an open, free and transparent parliamentary democracy—although it is not hard for anyone to see the motive behind the Prime Minister’s actions. This is a blatant act of trickery by the Prime Minister and those around him in No. 10, designed only to shield a weak and divided Government from the wave of dissatisfaction among Members across the House and people across the country. It is a disingenuous act.

The Prime Minister makes much fanfare about our parliamentary democracy and lauds historical figures who led our country through past emergencies. Although he might try to compare himself to those who held the highest office before him and draw similarities between their strife and his own, the situation we find ourselves in is entirely of his making. His attempt to subvert democracy in this way is not at all fitting of comparison to the actions of any of the figures he holds in such high esteem, and it is not fitting of the office of Prime Minister.

The events of the past days and weeks have stretched the capacity of our constitutional norms, but what have they taught us? We have a Prime Minister who is prepared to stretch the limits of democracy and abuse the parliamentary system. I agree with my colleagues that urgent reform is needed, although perhaps that is a debate for another day.

In kicking MPs out and suspending Parliament—in dismissing them and locking the door—the Prime Minister is denying my constituents the right to have their voices heard. In silencing the voices of MPs, he is silencing a nation. People and businesses in Cardiff North all tell me that. People came up to me at the weekend wanting to know what is going on. They asked, “Why is the Prime Minister doing this to our country? Why are the Government doing this?” They are worried about their future and about how this will affect them. They are worried that we are on the path to a devastating no deal that will have an impact on their livelihoods and their families.

All this is taking place in the eye of a storm, amid a growing emergency—a national crisis—during which people expect us to be present here. They want us to be here, standing up for them and working hard to resolve the crisis. As has been said, suspending Parliament means that important Bills, which we all worked hard on, will fall by the wayside. We heard about the environment Bill and the Agriculture Bill. I have my own Bill on plastics and packaging, which will fall by the wayside too. It would have extended producers’ responsibilities to ensure that the packaging they produce is far more environmentally friendly—it would have made them stand up and take notice—but it will fall by the wayside. What will happen then?

I have just come from a meeting with tens, if not hundreds of climate protesters, who are here to meet their Members of Parliament. What message does suspending Parliament send to the country and the world? That we do not care about the climate emergency? I am afraid the climate emergency will not stop just because Boris Johnson wants to massage his ego and get on with crashing us out with no deal.