Yesterday was a dark day for democracy in the UK
Yesterday was a dark day for democracy in the UK.
Boris Johnson’s bid to shut down Parliament to force through a No-deal Brexit is an outrageous assault on basic democratic principles.
In doing so, he is acting no better than a tin-pot dictator – not the Prime Minister of what is still supposedly a parliamentary democracy.
It is an outrageous bid to ram through an outcome that would do massive damage to jobs, investment and living standards across the whole of the UK.
And, make no mistake, it is an attempt to force an outcome that no one voted for.
A No-deal Brexit was not on the ballot paper in 2016.
All we had was a choice to leave or remain in the EU – with Boris Johnson’s infamous boast on the side of a bus the only thing resembling a manifesto for what Brexit would look like.
No one voted for chaos at ports and airports, delays for travellers, possible shortages of food and medicine – or a return to a hard border in Ireland with all the dangers that entails.
But all of these things are threatened by the No-deal Brexit which Johnson and his cabal of right-wingers are trying to engineer.
They have no mandate to do so and everything possible must be done to try and stop them.
Brexit was supposedly about returning control to the House of Commons.
Boris Johnson hasn’t been elected by anybody other than a tiny number of Tory Party members – but he is now trying to shut down parliament in order to do something which everyone who is prepared to be honest about it knows is going to do huge damage.
That is beyond outrageous, and will be fiercely resisted by the SNP and other opposition parties in the Commons.
Tories who are concerned about the direction their party and government is taking should also speak out.
That includes the Scottish Tories – Ruth Davidson keeps telling us she opposes a No-deal Brexit, but her silence yesterday was deafening.
Does she support her boss’s move to shut down Parliament – and if not can she bring herself to say so? And will she tell “her” Scottish Tory MPs to oppose No-deal?
The Scottish Tory leader’s supposed authority has been ebbing away for quite some time. Yesterday may have been the day that it was shredded once and for all.
And if reports that she is poised to quit are true then I wish her well, but it begs the question – if she is no longer prepared to tolerate government by Boris Johnson then why should Scotland be expected to?
Opposition parties came up with a plan earlier this week to stop No-deal, and there is now a very narrow window of opportunity next week to try to take control of the business in the House of Commons and then pass legislation.
Every effort should be made to do that next week, and the SNP will work with others to try and make sure it happens.
A vote of no confidence in the Johnson government must also be very much on the table if that proves to be the best way of stopping this.
My message to Boris Johnson is, if he has got the courage of his convictions, then bring an election on but have polling day before the 31 October, so that people across the UK can have the opportunity to vote.
And if he is not prepared to do that then the question is, what exactly is he frightened of?
For Scotland, yesterday’s actions raise specific questions.
It is no longer ridiculous to say that a Prime Minister that is prepared to shut down the House of Commons wouldn’t be prepared to do the same to the Scottish Parliament.
Holyrood goes back into session next week and as it does so, the bill to put in place the rules for an independence referendum will resume its parliamentary progress.
The people of Scotland must have the right to choose independence, because – amid the chaos of a shambolic, crumbling Westminster system – it is now clearer than ever that our future should lie as an independent nation.