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Kate Hoey, departing MP for Vauxhall in South London, may be a Labour Party member, but she is one Parliamentarian I will dearly miss.

On Tuesday, November 5, she, along with other departing MPs, gave her valedictory address. I saw it live, and it is very moving indeed:

Hoey, originally from Northern Ireland, still has a soft spot for her homeland. She also has been at the forefront for Brexit since 2016.

As MP for Vauxhall for 30 years (1989-2019), she said in her address that she rarely spent time with colleagues enjoying dinner. Instead, she was rooted in her constituency, just south of the Thames from the Houses of Parliament, and returned every evening for community meetings or get-togethers. She joked that her Mini could drive itself from Parliament to Vauxhall, it had made the journey so many times.

At the end, she began crying as she thanked her loyal staff, most of whom had served her for many years. She tried to stop crying — ‘This is silly’ — then quickly recovered to finish her speech.

Most importantly, she said that she put country before party.

Kate Hoey is why I never used to mind Labour very much. She was old school, just with different political stances.

The Conservative Woman thought she was great, too (emphases mine):

There are not many Members of Parliament TCW will be sad to see the back of. But there is one: Kate Hoey.

She stands heads and shoulders above her colleagues – Labour and Conservative. There is not a woman MP to match her in any of the parties …

Would that other MPs were as principled. Parliament will be a poorer place without her. Young MPs should listen and learn what political principle really means, and perhaps there is no better place to start than her speech at the Leave Means Leave rally on March 29, 2019:

We wish Kate well and hope that, liberated from party politics, she will continue to exert her influence for good.

I could not agree more.

Recapping 2019, here are some of Kate Hoey’s best moments.

Brexit

Hoey, like all Leavers, was deeply disappointed we did not leave the EU on March 29:

Our next extension was to April 12:

She had a go at Guy Verhofstadt …

… and at Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow:

She liked the new EU-free passports, since suspended:

Labour Party

We had the EU elections in May. Afterwards, Tony Blair’s spin doctor Alastair Campbell explained why he himself voted for the Liberal Democrats rather than Labour.

Labour expelled him.

Campbell’s supporters were angry that Kate Hoey had not been expelled. However, there was no reason for Labour to expel her. This photo is from 2016, pre-referendum:

Announcing she would stand down as MP for Vauxhall

In 2017, Kate Hoey announced she would be serving her last term as MP for Vauxhall.

In July 2019, she stayed true to her pledge:

At that time, no one knew we would have an election later this year. Hoey wisely confirmed she would serve her term as MP:

This was the main reason why she did not want to seek a further term:

Here’s another:

The fact that she supported delivering Brexit did not matter to her Leave constituency. She stood on principle:

She cared about the children in Vauxhall, whether it be for education …

… or a day out at a museum or clay pigeon shooting:

As far as I know, no new Labour candidate has yet been selected. Lord Adonis was willing to renounce his title for the candidacy:

But, he did not succeed:

Boris

Kate was happy when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister:

A few weeks later, he faced opposition from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and many other MPs:

Kate made her views known:

She lamented that today’s Labourites know nothing about the party’s Euroscepticism, e.g. Tony Benn’s, in the 1970s:

Boris’s deal

Although Boris’s new Brexit deal got rid of the backstop, it would put in a virtual border down the middle of the Irish Sea and make getting some goods from Northern Ireland to other parts of the UK difficult.

Therefore, Hoey could not vote for it. Fortunately, it passed, although the Programme Motion for the timetable did not:

That said, she criticised Jeremy Corbyn for blaming Boris for our failure to exit the EU by October 31:

John Bercow

She was no fan of Speaker Bercow:

She is much happier with Sir Lindsay Hoyle:

Election

As for the December 12 election, this is what she predicts:

She has agreement on that:

She has also noted how Labour have dumped Brexit as a talking point:

Conclusion

At the end, Kate Hoey has been grateful for all the support the British public have given her:

If not the Brexit Party, then, yes, please, the House of Lords.

Well done, Kate Hoey. A grateful nation — whether Labour or Conservative — thanks you for your service as an MP.

It is a pleasure to report that Sir Lindsay Hoyle is the new Speaker of the House:

Sir Lindsay, the Lancastrian

Sir Lindsay is the MP for Chorley in Lancashire. His election as Speaker means that his seat in Chorley is traditionally uncontestable, just as John Bercow’s was in Buckingham. So, there is no point in Hoyle’s constituents voting on December 12. Furthermore, the residents of Chorley, as was true for Buckingham, essentially have no MP to represent them:

Unlike a number of MPs, the new Speaker was a businessman before entering politics:

Rumour has it that the Speaker is empathetic towards Brexit:

On a personal, and sad, note, in his acceptance speech, he mentioned his late daughter:

Lindsay Hoyle declared his candidacy for Speaker shortly after John Bercow announced he would be standing down and retiring — probably because the Conservatives announced they would be fielding a candidate in Buckingham, a break with tradition:

Sir Lindsay enjoyed watching the Rugby World Cup final (England v South Africa) on Saturday:

Some compared that photo to Whistler’s Mother:

As the Times is behind a paywall, I couldn’t read the article. Even though the Speaker is Labour, my greatest concern is ‘tone’ policing. A few weeks ago, Bercow criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson for replying to a strident Labour MP with the words ‘humbug’ and ‘Surrender Act’. I hope that the new Speaker will use common sense, although I have seen him follow the Bercow line with Conservatives. We shall see.

As for his style, Hoyle seems to have been calm, cool and collected.

That said, in the past, during his time as a Deputy Speaker, he can restore order. The following clips are not in chronological order and the best part comes in the second half, from the time that Alex Salmond was still an SNP MP. A prolonged confrontation ensued:

Sir Lindsay said he would bring back the traditional Speaker’s garb, but only on ‘traditional days’. I have no idea what this means, other than the State Opening of Parliament, but we shall see in due course:

Guido Fawkes has the soundbite from Radio 4’s Today Programme (emphases in the original):

New speaker Lindsay Hoyle told the Today Programme this morning that he will be bringing back the Speaker’s wig and assorted regalia on big parliamentary occasions.

“On traditional days, of course. You have to wear dress that is suitable for that day.”

Bercow’s legacy being unwound piece by piece…

Speaker candidates reflected a new style, not Bercow’s

In watching Monday’s session, which began at 2:30 and ended around 9:50 p.m., I was struck at how many candidates for Speaker mentioned that they would speak less — and call on more backbenchers, not just the more prominent ones.

Surely, that was not John Bercow’s style.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Father of the House, Kenneth Clarke, presided over the election for Speaker. He is retiring after over three decades as an MP. He was also Chancellor for the Exchequer under John Major and remains a Europhile:

He was the sort of MP one either loved or loathed:

During my Europhile years, I thought Ken Clarke was terrific. Once I began reading more about the European Commission and the goings-on in Brussels, I changed my mind. But I digress.

There were four rounds of voting on Monday, and the session started with all the candidates giving short and sweet speeches. A BBC Parliament pundit commenting on proceedings observed that when Bercow presented his candidacy ten years ago, he spoke for ten minutes!

This was the list of candidates. Only two are Conservative: Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing and Sir Edward Leigh. The others are Labour MPs. Sir Lindsay and Dame Rosie Winterton also entered the candidacy as Deputy Speakers.

My preferred candidate was Dame Eleanor, with Sir Lindsay as second choice:

Those watching at home hoped that Harriet Harman, the Mother of the House as she is the longest serving female MP, would fail dismally:

Ms Harman is on the left in the photo below:

Harman did not do very well in the first round of voting …

… but she survived for a second round, unlike Meg Hillier and Edward Leigh:

This is why the election took a long time:

Harriet Harman’s votes decreased in the second round, and she withdrew. Dame Rosie Winterton, a pleasant Deputy Speaker, was automatically eliminated:

In the third round, Dame Eleanor was automatically eliminated. This is an interesting result, because Chris Bryant is actually an Anglican priest, although he has not had a clerical position for many years. He withdrew from parish life because of his homosexuality and got into politics instead, as he said on The Wright Stuff many years ago. However, Bryant certainly learned at seminary to speak effectively to the public. That is why I think he did so well:

Many of us hope that Dame Eleanor, if re-elected in December, will receive a nice position once Parliament reconvenes. In any event, she was Deputy Speaker on Tuesday afternoon after Sir Lindsay finished his first few hours as Speaker:

A fourth round of voting took place:

with Sir Lindsay emerging as the winner with 325 votes. Chris Bryant received 213.

He had cross-party support from the beginning:

A Conservative candidate lent his support after bowing out:

Unfortunately, I was unable to see Sir Lindsay’s acceptance speech and what the two party leaders said to him. Every time I tuned into BBC Parliament, there was a recording of the House of Lords. By the time I tuned in again, the House — and new Speaker — were already in the House of Lords for the formal ceremony. Bad timing on my part, no doubt, but BBC Parliament’s banner said to tune in at 9:20 p.m.

In the event, the result was in at 8:30. Henry Deedes of the Daily Mail wrote (emphases mine):

The result came just before 8.30pm. When it was announced, Sir Lindsay blew out his cheeks. Lisa Nandy (Lab, Wigan) patted his arm warmly. Nigel Evans and Caroline Flint shared the honours in dragging him to the chair. Outside, the bongs of Big Ben sounded again as the old bell was tested ahead of its appearance at Remembrance Sunday. Parliament is finally ringing the changes.

It is interesting that many people are now breathing an audible sign of relief that John Bercow is gone.

However, some journalists, such as Dan Hodges, had been doing so for a long time:

Tradition still applies

Certain traditions still apply for a new Speaker of the House.

From the Middle Ages until the Glorious Revolution in 1688-1689, the position of Speaker was to voice the concerns of Parliamentarians to the King. Often, they opposed the King, and the Speaker represented those views to the monarch.

Therefore, the role of Speaker was potentially dangerous. For those reasons, those elected did not always want to serve, so a tradition grew up around past Speakers being dragged up to the chair. The winning candidate also used to say that he was unable to fulfil the role, because they potentially risked their lives. I am not sure if Sir Lindsay said this. I have not seen any reports of it.

Here he is being dragged to the Speaker’s chair after the Father of the House read the result:

You can see a photo on the left of him being dragged from the Labour benches:

Standing by the Speaker’s chair, but not yet sitting in it, he said:

I will be neutral. I will be transparent.

This House will change but it will change for the better.

I stand by what I said, I stand firm, that I hope this House will be once again a great respected House, not just in here but across the world.

It’s the envy and we’ve got to make sure that tarnish is polished away, that the respect and tolerance that we expect from everyone who works in here will be shown and we’ll keep that in order.

The Prime Minister offered his congratulations. Some journalists view the word ‘kindness’ below as a dig at Bercow:

I believe you will also bring your signature kindness, kindness and reasonableness to our proceedings, and thereby to help to bring us together as a Parliament and a democracy.

Because no matter how fiercely we may disagree, we know that every member comes to this place with the best of motives, determined to solve, to serve the oldest Parliamentary democracy in the world.

And to achieve our goals by the peaceable arts of reason and debate invigilated by an impartial Speaker, which was and remains one of our greatest gifts to the world.

Also:

After long, happy years of dealing with you… whenever any of us is preparing to speak in this chamber, we all know there is a moment between standing up and when the Speaker calls you when your heart is in your mouth.

And in that moment of anxiety, about whether you’re going to make a fool of yourself and so on, and indeed at the moment when we sit down amid deafening silence, the kindliness of the Speaker is absolutely critical to our confidence and the way we behave.

And Mr Speaker, over the years I have observed that you have many good qualities, and I’m sure you will stick up for backbenchers in the way that you have proposed, and I’m sure that you will adhere to a strict Newtonian concept of time in PMQs.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition, said:

The job of Speaker is not just a ceremonial one. It is about the rights of backbenchers to be able to speak up.

It is about the power of Parliament to hold the government to account. That is the whole principle and point of a parliamentary democracy, that we have a strong Parliament that can hold the executive to account. And I know you will stand up for that principle because that is what you believe in.

Ceremony of Approbation in the House of Lords

The main ceremony came in the House of Lords, the ceremony of Approbation.

In absentia, the Queen had placed her seal on Sir Lindsay’s election as Speaker. I do not know how they got it to the Palace so quickly, but someone who had been involved in a past Speaker’s election told BBC Parliament that they had two parchments ready, each with the name of one of the final two candidates. The parchment with the name of the winner was immediately despatched to Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s approval.

I wish I had a video to share of the ceremony in the House of Lords, because it was really rather grand.

Afterwards, the Speaker returned to the House, escorted by the Sergeant at Arms. MPs reconvened. The Speaker moved to adjourn for the day, receiving an enthusiastic number of ‘Ayes’.

Historical notes

During the first round of voting, the panel on BBC Parliament discussed various Speakers from history as well as traditions regarding their dress.

The Archbishop of Canterbury could get involved with the appointment, or otherwise, of a Speaker:

Correct. I do not remember who that Speaker-elect was, nor the King, but it happened centuries ago.

The BBC Parliament panel also discussed the tradition of wigs and robes. Whilst both were commonplace as dress centuries ago, as time went on, although normal street attire approached what we know today, the wigs and robes stayed on to represent a particular office, e.g. judge, Speaker.

They also pointed out that the wig a Speaker wears is different to that of a judge. The same goes for the formal Speaker’s robe with the gold trim, which a judge would not wear.

It seems that, for everyday wear, recent Speakers, from Betty Boothroyd in the 1990s to the present, have worn a judge’s gown. Mrs Boothroyd did away with the wig as it was dirty, or so we heard on BBC Parliament. In reality, I suspect that Mrs Boothroyd did not want to ruin her elegant bouffant.

Incidentally, Mrs Boothroyd was in the Public Gallery yesterday. She celebrated her 90th birthday a few weeks ago. She has been our only woman Speaker thus far. More about her perhaps in another post.

Final note on Bercow

As for John Bercow, the Daily Mail reported that, earlier on Monday:

Mr Bercow formalised his departure from the Commons today by becoming ‘Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead’.

That is the traditional way of standing down as an MP, as they are not allowed to resign from office directly. 

Conclusion

Already today — Tuesday — the Speaker chose backbenchers whom I have not seen before to speak.

The subsequent readings and Committee Stage of the long-awaited bill regarding compensation to victims of institutional child abuse in Northern Ireland decades ago have passed the House in the final hours of this Parliament, which comes to an end at 00:01 on November 6:

Looking ahead, I am hoping for great things in Parliament once it reconvenes on December 16.

Before I continue with the surprise ending the exiting Speaker of the House John Bercow received during an afternoon of nauseating tributes, this is what happened today in Parliament:

I’m writing this post before the session begins, but, note how late Monday sittings start — rarely before 2:30 p.m. Parliament does not meet on Fridays, either, so it’s a nice long weekend for all concerned.

Also note that there will be no prayers from the chaplain, as the House of Commons is in transition with regard to clergy. The outgoing chaplain will be appointed as Bishop of Dover later this month. She is in the photo on the left in red. The newest Sergeant at Arms, originally from Nigeria, carries the mace:

Someone responding to the House of Commons tweet lamented that no prayers were being said:

I think a few Prayers are needed before the Election of a New Speaker Clearly none were said during the last election.

I agree.

Apparently, the new chaplain, a Catholic priest, has not yet started. However, I would have thought that Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House, could have been in a position to say prayers.

Another issue looms. Bercow knew that an election was coming up on December 12, yet, he wanted his successor chosen now. Several MPs will not be standing for re-election, e.g. the Father of the House Kenneth Clarke, and many more, e.g. the Independents, risk losing their seats next month.

Therefore, it seems inappropriate for a departing House of Commons, led by an departing Father of the House to appoint a new Speaker. Parliament will be adjourning on November 6, by the way:

More on the new Speaker anon.

Now let’s return to Thursday, October 31. Bercow was lapping up the afternoon session, which MPs completely devoted to him.

Never mind any pending legislation that has to be completed by the end of the day on Tuesday. One looming bit of legislation concerns compensation to victims of child abuse in religious and state-run care homes in Northern Ireland. I have heard the testimony from some of these men, now in their 50s and 60s, and it is harrowing.

Labour MP Kate Hoey has served her London constituency of Vauxhall for many years and will retire (unless she runs for the Brexit Party), but she is from Northern Ireland originally. She was appalled by Thursday afternoon’s events:

Yes, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen messed up Bercow’s delightful punchbowl by demanding the truth about a crooked, longstanding Labour MP for Leicestershire, Keith Vaz. Vaz represents Leicester East and Bridgen North West Leicestershire.

What a surprise ending for Bercow.

A report — an investigation into Keith Vaz’s activities — came out that day. Andrew Bridgen is holding it in his hand when he speaks. (You can see the name Keith Vaz on the cover.)

Bridgen told Bercow — ‘Mr Speaker’ — that he tried warning him about this in 2015. Bercow shot out of his chair and told Bridgen to sit down. Then he made out as if Bridgen was in the wrong: ‘I cannot help him’; ‘I fear he is beyond redemption’.

Interestingly, at this point, Bridgen had spoken for probably a total of two minutes. Bercow told him to sit down twice. As the video below shows, Bercow spoke for at least ten minutes. Near the end, Bercow gave him permission to speak for a third time but not ‘to dilate’ (go on at length):

Bridgen seized the opportunity, warning about public sentiment once the report on Vaz is released outside of Parliament:

Mr Speaker, to the fag end [cigarette butt] of your tenure, you are defending the indefensible and your very close relationship with the honourable Member in question [Vaz]. The House can come to its own conclusions. The Standards Committee has come to its own conclusions, and, Mr Speaker, the public will come to theirs. Thank you very much.

Political pundit Guido Fawkes put it this way:

At the end of the day, Bridgen tweeted and got a lot of compliments for speaking out:

The Mail on Sunday‘s Dan Hodges, who is the son of actress and former MP Glenda Jackson, agreed with Bridgen and the public. He got hammered for it:

However, not all comments were negative:

A Conservative MP also spoke up about Bercow’s conduct during his tenure:

Nothing will happen. Bercow denied allegations of bullying members of his staff and, as I wrote last week, that’s the end of the matter. Lucky for him. Yet, Bercow was the one telling Conservative MPs that they must be nice and moderate their language in Parliament when, in reality, it’s the opposition who are the strident ones. More on that in another post.

Returning to Andrew Bridgen’s short but sharp comments, let us look at the allegations about Keith Vaz, the Speaker’s personal friend. Wikipedia tells us (emphases mine):

Vaz served as the Minister for Europe between October 1999 and June 2001. He was appointed a member of the Privy Council in June 2006. He was Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee from July 2007, but resigned from this role on 6 September 2016 after the Sunday Mirror revealed he had engaged in unprotected sexual activity with male prostitutes and had said he would pay for cocaine if they wished to use it. At the end of October 2016, Vaz was appointed to the Justice Select Committee; a parliamentary vote to block this development was defeated.[1]

The Mirror, incidentally, is a Labour-supporting newspaper.

Further detail follows:

Allegations about Vaz were published by the British Sunday Mirror tabloid in early September 2016. It was reported that he had engaged in unprotected sexual activity with male prostitutes and had told them he would pay for cocaine if they wished to use it. He told the prostitutes that his name was Jim and that he was an industrial washing machine salesman.[60] Vaz later apologised for his actions.[61][62] “It is deeply disturbing that a national newspaper should have paid individuals who have acted in this way”, he said.[61][63] Vaz resigned as chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee on 6 September 2016.[64]

At the end of October 2016, Vaz was appointed to the Justice Select Committee, after he had put himself forward and was nominated by his party.[65] A House of Commons motion to block this development was defeated; they are rare on such an issue. According to Laura Hughes of The Daily Telegraph, Conservative Party whips told their MPs to vote for Vaz in the division to prevent a precedent being created of such appointments being rejected by MPs. Over 150 Conservative MPs voted in support of Vaz.[1] The Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen asked in the chamber of Vaz; “If the right honourable member for Leicester East found himself last month to be not fit to be chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee and the matters are unresolved, what makes him think that he is a fit and proper person this month?”[66]

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, has previously announced an investigation into Vaz’s conduct.[66] The Standards Commissioner’s investigation was halted “for medical reasons” in December 2017.[67] The inquiry recommenced in March 2018[68] and, in October 2019, the inquiry recommended that he be suspended from Parliament for six months.[69][70] On 31 October, MPs voted in favour of the suspension.[71]

I agree with Diane Abbott below (if only this time), but, if Labour had any moral compass at all, they would not allow Vaz to stand for re-election:

On November 7, 2018, the BBC published an article by Newsnight‘s editor Chris Cook, ‘How John Bercow keeps Keith Vaz’s secrets’. The article says that Bercow is exercising ‘parliamentary privilege’. Newsnight is a BBC weekday programme:

In the 17th century, England had a problem with laws on sedition. MPs could not speak freely about the king’s policies for fear of judges. To solve that problem, we adopted a special guard against tyranny: “parliamentary privilege”. Now, John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, has invoked it to stop Newsnight getting information about the behaviour of the MP Keith Vaz.

Bercow had the final say in the matter:

Mr Bercow has personally intervened and gone out of his way to bar Newsnight from asking the Information Commissioner or a judge to review the decision. We will not be able to overturn this decision, as journalists fought through the courts to get to see MPs’ expenses.

The core legal text here is the 1689 Bill of Rights. It states: “the Freedome of Speech and Debates or Proceedings in Parlyament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any Court or Place out of Parlyament” …

This is perhaps the most important legal change in England that came from the 1688-9 coup, dubbed by supporters “the Glorious Revolution”, when James II was replaced by the Dutch prince William of Orange and his wife Princess Mary. It is an important constitutional principle.

That is why MPs and peers can make allegations in the Commons or Lords without fear of libel law. When Lord Hain named Sir Philip Green as having obtained an injunction against the Daily Telegraph, he was deploying this right. Injunctions have no weight inside the walls of the debating chambers.

As Chris Cook explains, not everything is cut and dried in these matters, past and present. Recently, judges have had to intervene, as they did when the expenses scandal broke several years ago.

At the time Cook wrote the article, he focussed on Vaz’s expenses rather than the prostitution angle. Cook and his team tried to use the Freedom of Information Act to get details of Vaz’s trips abroad, but to no avail:

If the administration of MPs’ expenses is not covered by privilege, why should the administration of committee trips be? MPs are involved – but they oversaw expenses too. Could knowing which travel agent booked tickets for MPs be a route to power for a would-be tyrant? What is the threat to free speech?

Some months ago, Mr Bercow personally made the argument that this paperwork was all covered by privilege. But I looked forward to a tribunal when this could be tested.

It all got heavy handed, as Bercow pulled out all the stops to prevent Newsnight from getting access to information about Vaz:

Normally, this sort of determination can be referred to the Information Commissioner and then to the tribunals and courts to judge whether that finding is fair. My judgment is, if they did that, I had a reasonable chance of winning.

I suspect Mr Bercow agreed. That would explain why he has now used an unusual personal power to block any appeals.

This week, I was notified he has issued a “certificate” under section 34(3) of the Freedom of Information Act. This is, in effect, a personal release veto.

These sorts of vetos are supposed to be used sparingly – an emergency reserve power to guard sacred spaces if courts get it wrong.

That is because their use means I have no rights of appeal. The Information Commissioner’s view is that, since the certificate is genuine, that is the the end of the matter. Any appeal to the tribunals will automatically be discarded. I can ask a judge to review his decision, but it would entail looking at a decision taken by a parliamentary officer. That would hit privilege from another direction.

The net result is that the Speaker, who denies bullying, has made an order to hide information about the behaviour of his close personal friend, Keith Vaz, a man who also denies bullying – supposedly to protect MPs’ freedom of speech.

And then he has gone out of his way to use a personal veto to make sure no-one could even consider reviewing that questionable decision.

You can understand why staff are so suspicious about whether MPs will ever let themselves be judged by outsiders when it comes to bullying and harassment.

I have no confidence that Bercow’s conduct will be investigated, whether it concerns bullying, Brexit or Keith Vaz.

On a happier note, however, Andrew Bridgen hurried home to Leicestershire to end Thursday with what looks to have been an excellent curry:

More to follow on the new Speaker soon.

Thursday, October 31, 2019, was John Bercow’s last day as Speaker of the House of Commons.

I listened to Parliamentary proceedings that day, as I wanted to be sure he was actually leaving. Based on the fulsome tributes from both Conservative and Labour MPs, it appears as if yesterday did indeed bring an end to the former Conservative’s tenure as Speaker.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave him a witty, tongue-in-cheek tribute at Wednesday’s PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions):

No doubt Bercow got Boris’s asides, delivered with aplomb. MPs laughed at the back-handed compliments. To a stranger, they would have indeed sounded as positives. However, those of us watching at home got the jokes.

I had not noticed, but a number of MPs not standing for re-election on December 12 spoke on Wednesday. That was entirely at Speaker Bercow’s discretion.

Interestingly, Kate Hoey, Labour’s MP for Vauxhall and a firm Leave supporter, was not among them:

Many of us hope that Kate Hoey could run as a candidate for the Brexit Party (BXP):

She has always been a ladylike and eloquent MP, unlike many other women on the opposition benches who, quite frankly, sound like angry harpies:

Most of us do not like John Bercow because not only did he turn his back on the Conservative Party shortly after becoming Speaker, he also did his best to bring up motions that frustrated the Brexit process, from Theresa May’s final months to now.

Behind the scenes, members of his staff accused him of harassment. No investigation took place. All he needed to do was to deny the accusations.

As I write on Thursday, I am listening to more MPs — many of whom are Conservatives — fawn over Bercow.

Bercow has a grace and favour accommodation, Speaker’s House, in the Palace of Westminster. Unfortunately, it requires renovation, so his successor, to be elected on Monday, November 4, will not be able to move into it for another year. Could the works have been staged, particularly during the many lengthy recesses? Did he have any say in prolonging repairs? One wonders:

Guido Fawkes describes Speaker’s House as follows (emphasis in the original):

The Speaker of the House of Commons doesn’t just get the freedom to verbally abuse whoever he likes, he gets a very swanky pad in the heart of the Palace of Westminster, with staterooms, a bedroom designed for the monarch to stay in and a private gilded study. Lesser known about Bercow’s pad is it also includes a private sectioned-off part of the Commons’ Terrace as a private space to entertain guests outside. All paid for by the taxpayer of course.

Despite living in situ in the Palace of Westminster, Bercow took a roundabout route to work on his last day:

Guido Fawkes tells us about the Press Association (PA) record of the event along with a tweet:

John Bercow was pictured arriving at work this morning by PA in the kind of candid, natural shots that we all indulge in on our final day job commute.

The only flaw in his plan was that Bercow lives in Speaker’s House… in the Palace of Westminster – meaning he had to first leave his place of work to be featured in the snaps heading back in – a 1627% longer journey. The whole thing is just a faked up performance for the cameras… perfectly appropriate ending.

That said, the PA had a good summary of his ten-year tenure as Speaker, excerpted below, emphases mine:

John Bercow has been no stranger to the limelight in more than 10 years in the Speaker’s chair.

The one-time Conservative MP for Buckingham, with a high-profile Labour-supporting wife, has made a catalogue of unconventional comments since he took over the impartial role from Michael Martin.

He has survived attempts to remove him from the chair, including from former colleagues in the Tory party, revelations about his expenses and allegations of bullying, which he denied.

But it will perhaps be his interventions in the Brexit crisis, and the relish with which he seemed to make them, for which he will be best remembered.

Regular Parliament watchers may or may not miss his inimitable style, such as his bellowing shouts of “order” and “division, clear the lobby”, but those quirks are what brought him international attention when the eyes of the world became fixed on the Commons throughout 2019.

As the Brexit debate raged and senior opposition figures played every trick in the parliamentary book to prevent the governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson from pursuing their preferred policies, Mr Bercow drew the ire of hardline Eurosceptics for perceived bias.

After he allowed an amendment by Tory rebel Dominic Grieve to be voted on in January, he was labelled “Speaker of the Devil” by one newspaper, while the Daily Mail called him an “egotistical preening popinjay (who) has shamelessly put his anti-Brexit bias before the national interest – and is a disgrace to his office”.

He voted Remain, discussing it candidly with a group of students, but in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica denied this meant he had lost his impartiality.

“If I’m biased, I’m biased in favour of Parliament. Parliament being heard. Parliament having a right to speak. Parliament having time. Parliament being respected by the government of the day and indeed by the opposition,” he said.

Since being elected as the 157th Speaker of the House of Commons in June 2009, he has delivered many caustic put-downs, earning him both loathing and appreciative laughter from MPs.

He had a fractious relationship with former Commons Leader, and now Business Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, after he was accused of calling her a “stupid woman”.

Andrea Leadsom is far from being ‘stupid’, but that’s Bercow.

Three weeks ago, Bercow travelled to Brussels to meet with his opposite number, the EU Parliament President David Sassoli:

The Speaker’s role does not include government negotiations:

To think that October 31 was supposed to be our Brexit date. Of course, Bercow did not prevent this single-handedly, but, nonetheless, he helped:

On the Saturday, October 19 session, Bercow brought forward the Letwin Amendment, which stipulated that all Brexit legislation be voted on before Boris’s new deal was approved. Its passage by MPs that day ensured that Boris had to send letters of extension to Brussels, in compliance with the Benn Act. January 31, 2020 is the new Brexit deadline:

The following day, one of his deputies, Conservative MP Dame Eleanor Laing, accused him of abusing his position:

The Mail on Sunday article states:

Dame Eleanor is one of nine MPs running to replace him, including fellow deputies Sir Linsday Hoyle and Dame Rosie Winterton.  

In another barely veiled attack on Mr Bercow, Dame Eleanor said the Speaker needed to ‘set an example of dignified, respectful behaviour’ and said: ‘Aggression and arrogance are deplorable.’ 

Mr Bercow’s critics have frequently taken aim at what they see as a pompous, grandstanding style of managing the Commons. 

In a bizarre rant at Michael Gove last month he even brought the Cabinet minister’s children into a row

The Speaker was back in the spotlight yesterday as the Commons assembled on a Saturday for the first time since the Falklands War in 1982. 

After Mr Johnson lost the crunch vote, the Speaker hinted he could block a Government attempt to bring another ‘meaningful vote’ on Monday

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, suggested the Government would bring the vote before introducing Withdrawal Agreement legislation this week.

But Mr Bercow has previously ruled that MPs cannot hold repeated votes on the same question

Citing a precedent dating back to 1604, he ruled in March that then-PM Theresa May could not bring the same withdrawal deal back to Parliament without changes.   

The ruling enraged Conservative MPs who accused him of sparking a ‘constitutional crisis’

Two months earlier he had torn up precedent to allow a procedural vote which damaged Mrs May

‘If we were guided only by precedent, manifestly nothing in our procedures would ever change,’ he said at the time.      

Mr Bercow, previously a Conservative MP, took the chair in 2009 after Michael Martin resigned over the expenses scandal. 

The following week, Boris’s deal did pass in Parliament, however, MPs opposed the Programme Motion for approving legislation, which they said had too short a timeframe. Hence, Boris’s move for an election on December 12, which has now passed the House of Lords:

As for choosing Bercow’s successor on Monday, I wish Dame Eleanor all the best:

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, made it known that he will be voting for her:

That said, many pundits say that it is now Labour’s turn to sit in the chair. We shall see.

More next week.

UPDATE: A surprise ending (well, perhaps not so much to my British readers) awaits on Monday. It took place late during Thursday’s proceedings and deserves its own post.

It is rare that the House of Commons meets on a Saturday.

Before October 19, the last time was in 1982 when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. That was only the third Saturday session since the Second World War. Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister at the time.

The Telegraph has a short, informative video on the agenda for October 19:

The Rugby World Cup was on, so special arrangements were made for MPs who wanted to see the televised England v Australia match from Japan that morning.

However, the House of Commons was full to bursting by the time the session started at 9:30 a.m. As there are never enough seats on the benches for all MPs, several had to huddle together just inside the entrance to the chamber.

Those watching at home — and I was one of them — were looking forward to the session, like this Twitter user:

By 3:30 p.m., we were sorely disappointed, agreeing with ITV’s Piers Morgan:

The Letwin amendment

The day’s business began with a debate on the Letwin amendment, brought forward by outgoing MP, Sir Oliver Letwin, a notional Conservative — a rebel who had the whip removed.

This is not the first time Letwin has frustrated the Brexit process. He did so in April, when we had a short two-week extension from March 29 to April 12. He co-sponsored a bill with Labour MP Yvette Cooper to ensure we did not leave then, either:

Then — as now — the amendment was designed to thwart a No Deal exit. It passed. Conservative Woman discusses the amendment, but, more importantly, Letwin’s less than trustworthy tenure as an MP. About the Cooper-Letwin Bill from April, CW‘s article says (emphases mine below, unless otherwise stated):

Thanks to Oliver Letwin’s machinations with Yvette Cooper, we woke yesterday to hear that MPs had voted by majority of one ‘to force the prime minister to ask for an extension to the Brexit process, in a bid to avoid a no-deal scenario’. Not that Mrs May needed any forcing. The constitutional outrage of the Bill currently being rammed through Parliament is that against the people’s will it will prevent us leaving the EU, for a second time, despite the referendum, despite the main party manifestos, the European Withdrawal Act, and the Prime Minister’s repeated promises, on April 12.

That Mrs May is now playing kneesy-kneesy with Jeremy Corbyn and shuffling us toward a customs union worse than either leaving or remaining we have to thank Sir Oliver, useful idiot and Member of Parliament for the safe seat of West Dorset.

That, as a result of his Parliamentary coup, she’s collaborating and consulting a terrorist-loving Labour Leader in preference to her conservative colleague Jacob Rees-Mogg you’d think might trouble his conscience.

Not if you understand what shaped him as politician.

After Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, Letwin confirmed at the end of August that Speaker of the House John Bercow was working behind the scenes from his holiday bolthole in Turkey to frustrate Brexit before the Commons reconvened in September.

On September 12, The Sun reported on Letwin’s agenda:

SACKED Tory rebel Sir Oliver Letwin wants to create a “zombie parliament” by delaying Boris Johnson’s general election until next summer at least if he fails to get a new Brexit deal.

He warned there was a cross-party majority in favour of blocking going to the polls until our EU split is resolved — either by passing a deal or holding a second referendum.

Sir Oliver, a leading architect of the law to block a No Deal, said going back to the people to vote on Brexit must come first as an election would “muddle things up”.

But Tory Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith accused him of “stabbing Conservative MPs in the back”.

Letwin’s successful amendment to Boris’s new deal in October prevents any exit until all legislation is agreed. By its very nature, it automatically triggered implementation of the Benn-Burt Act, which stipulates that Boris must send a letter to the EU to ask for an extension. As I write, it is unclear what the EU will do. Benn-Burt even specifies the exact text of the letter. More on that below.

Veteran broadcaster and publisher Andrew Neil explains the strategy behind Letwin’s move:

After Letwin’s amendment passed, The Telegraph rightly took issue with him:

The Mail on Sunday alleged that Letwin had help in devising the amendment from Lord Pannick, an ardent Remainer:

On Sunday, Letwin confirmed that Lord Pannick was helping him:

Not surprisingly, a number of former Conservative MPs — the rebels — voted for the Letwin amendment:

It is important to keep in mind that Northern Ireland’s DUP also voted for the Letwin amendment, even though Boris’s new Brexit deal has removed the contentious trade/customs backstop that Theresa May’s had. However, the DUP MPs are unhappy that there will be a virtual customs border in the Irish Sea:

If those two groups had not voted Aye, Letwin’s amendment would have failed. The result was close: 322-306.

However, if Labour think they now have the DUP onside, they should think again. On Monday, October 21, MP Jim Shannon said:

Guido Fawkes explains (emphasis in the original):

Big news if remain MPs were hoping to get a customs union amendment through on the back of DUP support. Sighs of relief from Downing Street…

Interestingly, the UK edition of HuffPost says that we might have reached what journalist Paul Waugh calls ‘peak Letwin’. After the vote, he wrote (emphases in the original, those in purple mine):

today it felt like we had reached ‘Peak Letwin’. And although the large crowd in Parliament Square roared when the vote was announced on a huge screen, that too felt like the last dying twitch of a movement that now looks doomed …

The pro-People’s Vote MPs will push one final time when the Withdrawal Agreement Bill arrives next week. But having waited and waited for their moment in the hope they can bring more MPs on board, that moment may have now passed. They won’t be able to amend the second reading of the bill, which may itself be passed with a hugely important vote for Johnson’s deal.

‌Most important of all, the People’s Vote campaign has been waiting for ‘moderate’ Tories to come on board (one claimed that half of the 21 would back a referendum), but those same Tories now look ready to call it a day and back the PM. The DUP are so upset with No.10 they are flirting with a second referendum threat, but few think that will happen.

The EU, which will probably hold off until Tuesday to see whether parliament really can pass the deal, may then offer only a short extension to say mid-November to allow time for the legislation and ratification by the EU itself. Again, that can only help Johnson and focus MPs’ minds once more on ‘this deal or no-deal’.

Confusion ensued

While we all knew that the Letwin amendment passed, confusion ensued as Saturday’s session ended.

Even MPs were left wondering what had happened.

It seemed to some of us, including MPs, that Boris’s deal had passed along with Letwin’s amendment. Although there was no vote on Boris’s deal, approving Letwin’s amendment seemed to imply that by voting for it, Boris’s deal had also been approved.

The parliamentary journal of record, Hansard, provided no clarity on the matter, either.

Letwin gave a statement after his amendment passed and House Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg made a Point of Order, not the customary Business Statement:

SNP MP Joanna Cherry checked Hansard but still has questions:

Jacob Rees-Mogg

As I said, Jacob Rees-Mogg made a Point of Order and delayed his usual customary Business Statement for Monday.

A lengthy 45-minute discussion ensued, mostly from Scottish MPs, such as Jo Cherry, who asked Speaker Bercow what was going on.

As Rees-Mogg made a Point of Order, he was not obliged to explain his statement that there would be a ‘full emergency business statement on Monday’:

Rees-Mogg sat there being discussed in the third person, which, while strange, conforms with parliamentary protocol:

Speaker Bercow reassured MPs that he would take legal advice at the weekend and make a statement on Monday:

The vote on the content of the Queen’s Speech was scheduled for early next week, too:

Then, Jacob Rees-Mogg quietly got up and walked out of the chamber (start at 4 sec. point):

Discussion went on for a few more minutes in his absence before concluding with this from Bercow:

Police protection required

The People’s Vote demonstration was going on outside the Palace of Westminster, as was a pro-Brexit gathering.

Although a few pro-Brexit jerks verbally attacked Labour MP Diane Abbott, the People’s Vote Remainers were far more serious about preventing Conservative MPs from leaving Parliament safely.

Some Cabinet MPs required a phalanx of police to escort them to their cars:

What happened to Rees-Mogg and his 12-year-old son, who had been in the Public Gallery, did the Remain/Second Referendum movement no favours:

However, Rees-Mogg received at least one shout out of support. This video also shows his son, who looks and dresses like his father:

Such heinous harassment will do Remainers no favours.

Boris complies with the law

That evening, Boris complied with the law.

Whether Remainers will approve (see below) is another matter.

However, I’m glad the PM complied with the Benn-Burt Act the way he did.

The Mail on Sunday reported:

Late yesterday – just before the midnight deadline stipulated by ‘wrecker’ MPs – a total of three letters were due to be sent from the Government to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council.

The first was the letter demanded by the Benn Act, which asks the EU to delay Brexit beyond the October 31 deadline – but not signed by Boris Johnson – using the exact wording specified in the legislation.

The second was a covering letter, written by Sir Tim Barrow, the UK’s Permanent Representative in Brussels, which made clear that the first letter was from Parliament, not the Government.

And the third was a letter from Mr Johnson, which was also sent to the leaders of the other 27 EU nations, in which he disavowed the first letter by making clear that he does not want any delay to Brexit.

In it, the PM said any further hold-up would be ‘deeply corrosive’, and would ‘damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners’.

He said UK would continue to ratify the deal and urged Brussels to do the same.

Donald Tusk confirmed he received them:

Tim Barrow’s cover letter prefaced the Benn-Burt letter, unsigned:

The PM also sent a letter to MPs, exhorting (encouraging) them to support his deal:

More Scottish anti-Brexit lawsuits to come

This week, Jo Maugham QC and Joanna Cherry MP, also a QC, will bring more anti-Brexit lawsuits in Edinburgh.

The first is about Boris’s handling of his obligations under the Benn Act.

While Parliament convened, Jo Cherry included, Jo Maugham prepared for the week ahead in Spain:

Calm and witty though his tweets might be, it is nonetheless hard to forget that, on October 17, Maugham called Rees-Mogg a ‘notorious talker of tripe’. That was not a one-off against the Conservatives, either.

What happens next?

On October 19, the BBC reported that the government plans to bring back a vote on Boris’s deal by holding:

a “meaningful vote” on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Tuesday.

This would corner MPs into a Yes/No vote on their deal, and given there are a fair number of Labour rebels, the government could well win.

Certainly, the vote would put any number of Labour MPs – and MPs for other parties – from Brexit-voting constituencies in a very awkward place.

Watch out for an attempt to attach a second referendum to the deal in some way.

But the success of that effort would require full-throated support (and whipping of their MPs) from the Labour Party. They are not there yet, and they may never be.

If the government wins a “meaningful vote” on Tuesday, the legislation to underpin the new deal would then go forward – and that would provide further opportunities to attempt amendments.

Winning the next meaningful vote is only the beginning of a new phase of Brexit; it’s not even the beginning of the end.

How true.

Along with many other Britons, I wish they would just pass Boris’s deal, along with the legislation, and get on with leaving on October 31 …

… because, at that point, our transition period begins. It would be scheduled to last until December 2020. It is during that time that trade — and other — deals can be fully negotiated.

More to follow this week.

On the evening of Tuesday, October 8, a second prorogation of Parliament took place:

Prorogation proceeded as normal, unlike the first one on September 10, which Baroness Hale and the Supreme Court declared unlawful.

Not illegal, unlawful: done for political reasons.

Apparently, Baroness Hale has eyes into Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s soul. Could it be the spider brooch what done it?

It has been said that Spiderwoman took down the Hulk with that decision. She isn’t denying it.

The Baroness spoke to the Association of State Girls’ Schools, covered by TES (Times Educational Supplement) event on October 4. Clearly, she took exception to Boris’s use several weeks ago of the phrase ‘girly swot’. He once referred to former PM David Cameron as a ‘girly swot’. The anti-Boris/anti-Brexit brigade are still running with it.

It is unclear whether the slide below came from the Association or the Baroness herself:

Now on to the orderly prorogation that took place on Tuesday evening:

This is what happened:

People were sympathetic towards Black Rod, remembering the events of September with Speaker Bercow and Labour MP Dennis Skinner (language alert):

Norman French is still used as part of this ceremony — ‘The Queen wishes it’:

Unlike last time, all of the MPs filed out of the chamber to walk to the House of Lords:

The same clerk from the Lords read out the lengthy achievements of the government and Parliament in terms of legislation:

The government writes the clerk’s speech, which is presented on the Queen’s behalf, hence the usage of ‘my government’:

In the photo at the top right, you can see Black Rod (Sarah Clarke) on the left and the Speaker of the House (John Bercow) next to her:

After the clerk finished the long list of accomplishments, she announced the prorogation of the House of Commons, required before a Queen’s Speech, which will take place on Monday:

The ‘zombie Parliament’ is over …

… although the same MPs will convene on Monday.

At the end:

The MPs then returned to the House of Commons for a few minutes:

Then everyone left and the chamber was locked.

On Monday, it will be interesting to see if MPs reject the content of the Queen’s Speech. They vote on it:

Even if they vote to approve it, the Lords — most of whom are life peers, not hereditary — can vote against subsequent legislation, e.g. Brexit. As the Twitter user below points out, Remainer Lords did not show up for September’s prorogation:

The last PM to have a Queen’s Speech rejected was Stanley Baldwin in 1924:

The last time this happened was in January 1924 to Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin after he proceeded with a King’s Speech, under George V, despite having lost his majority in the previous month’s general election.

Mr Baldwin subsequently resigned and a minority Labour government took over.

Oh, my. The circumstances, minus the general election, sound very similar to Boris Johnson’s. That said, Boris, being a keen student of history, already knows that.

He won’t resign. If MPs vote against the Queen’s Speech, all he has to say is that opposition MPs turned down his two previous motions for a general election. This is why Labour and the Lib Dems don’t want one:

More next week.

The 2019 Conservative Party conference began on Sunday, September 29.

As has been the case for the past few years, it is taking place in Manchester.

Guido Fawkes has the perfect caption:

I reported on Friday that MPs voted NOT to adjourn during these three days, despite the fact that the House of Commons did not meet for the Liberal Democrat and the Labour Party conferences. A great many Leavers fear that mischief could be afoot during the Conservatives’ absence.

The Mail on Sunday reported that No. 10 Downing Street is investigating possible ‘foreign collusion’ on the part of Remainer MPs. It was the paper’s front page story (click here and here for easier reading, as well as the website link to the article):

 

I am not sure whether anything quite like this has ever happened on this scale in Britain. It certainly hasn’t in modern history, meaning the last century, at least.

If true, this is serious stuff, especially if Speaker of the House John Bercow can get involved acting as the Prime Minister. What the heck?

I did not know this about sedition. If true, sedition is not a crime anymore in the UK. Good grief. How can that be?

Note that we are talking about turncoat Conservatives here, those who have had the party whip withdrawn and are now classified as Independent MPs.

David Gauke is now an Independent MP. I agree that these are serious accusations, but he appears to be digging a hole for himself:

Hmm, with all the complaints from last week, which ran into the weekend, about Boris Johnson’s language, one wonders:

As if that isn’t bad enough, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn convened a meeting with the Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson on Monday to put forward a VONC — Vote of No Confidence — against Boris Johnson. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), is herself not an MP but has MPs representing the party in the House of Commons. Talks are continuing:

And, the Labour vote for 16-year-olds could be scheduled during the Conservatives’ absence. It is doubtful that Speaker Bercow would stop it. This is the Shadow (Labour’s) Education Secretary Angela Rayner. She was on Andrew Marr’s BBC show on Sunday:

As for Speaker Bercow, Guy Verhofstadt really likes him:

Bercow might be standing down at the end of October, but he can wreak a lot of havoc before then.

The other big question at the weekend was whether Boris would feel compelled to resign. The media were full of scaremongering stories. I hope this is true:

The flowchart below looks accurate:

A majority of the British public backs Boris.

Lord Ashcroft conducted a poll on Brexit for the Mail on Sunday:

My latest research, published today, looks at the fundamentals: how voters have reacted to the drama not just of the past few weeks but the years since the EU referendum, and how this week’s events fit into the longer story.

For many people, and not just among those who backed Leave in the increasingly distant 2016 referendum, that story is one of frustration and failure – or, worse, deliberate actions to delay Brexit for as long as possible or stop it altogether.

Here is a key graphic from the poll:

It is hard to know what to make of it all.

One thing is for sure. Even though opposition MPs are whining about the absence of democracy, their masks have slipped.

We now know they do not care one jot for 17.4m Britons who voted to Leave in 2016 — and won: 52% to 48%.

More on the latest Brexit and Boris developments to follow tomorrow.

Welcome to another bumper edition of Brexit Chronicles.

On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, Britain’s Supreme Court — formerly known as the Law Lords — decided that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful and that MPs should return to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

They did not say that Boris Johnson personally broke the law in this regard, only that the prorogation was unlawful.

That said, this appears to be the first time a court of law has ruled against a prorogation, a fairly common occurrence throughout the history of the House of Commons. This legal decision on prorogation sets a potentially dangerous precedent, although I would be happy to scrap the Labour-instituted Supreme Court and see a return to the Law Lords. Pictured below are the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Baroness Hale:

Baroness Hale, speaking for the Supreme Court, wore a large spider brooch when she read out the decision. Hmm. A spider brooch about the size of a tarantula. Optics, anyone?

She also erred on one of the names in her statement, as Conservative MP John Redwood points out:

Unfortunately, that detail is unlikely to render the decision invalid.

At the time the Supreme Court reached its decision, the Labour Party conference was going on at the time in Brighton.

Before recapping this week’s events, in 2016, thousands of British barristers signed a letter imploring MPs not to enact the result of the referendum. This I did not know:

Now back to the present day.

Be advised of occasional foul language below!

Thwarting Brexit

Leave voters across the country can see what opposition MPs are doing. I reckon more and more voters are tuning in to BBC Parliament to watch proceedings.

Even renowned historian David Starkey has been vocal about stubborn Remain MPs refusing to fulfil the Leave result:

The danger is that if we adopt the Customs Union proposals that Remainers want, we will have far less control over our own trade, currency, armed forces and laws than we did as a full member of the EU before MPs voted to trigger Article 50 (emphases mine):

It’s all been a set up from the very beginning. The UK was only ever half in but after this, if we don’t leave 31/10 they’ll make sure we’re all the way in it right up to our necks. Full implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. Euro and all!

The Liberal Democrats, led by Jo Swinson, wrote to the EU Commission about Brexit, when only the government in power — currently Conservative — should be dealing directly with them. This was brought up in Wednesday’s Commons session, by the way, so it is true:

The move has not gone down well with some voters:

Note the petition:

Labour Party conference

The Labour Party produced a laundry list of far left policies to discuss at their conference in Brighton.

A teenage vote would keep a left-wing government in power forever. Reason No. 1 not to vote for Labour:

A trade unionist says other policies will be difficult to explain to voters:

Re the abolition of private schools: who is going to pay for the chaos this would cause? The taxpayer. Here’s Diane Abbott, who sent her own son to the private City of London day school:

This would devastate towns where there are private — including what the British call ‘public’ (e.g. Eton, Harrow, Rugby) — schools. Angela Rayner is the shadow education minister. Her name comes up in the second tweet:

Then there was Labour’s protest for a People’s Vote on EU membership. Erm … we had one on June 23, 2016. It was the referendum.

Emily Thornberry loathes England, by the way:

Labour MPs voted twice before the prorogation to oppose a general election, by the way. A general election is also a people’s vote:

Conservative MP James Cleverly, party chairman, has a good, concise summary of Labour’s policies — including their refusal to vote for a general election, when they’ve asked 35 times for one in Parliament. The video is subtitled:

This is what happened at conference. Diane Abbott makes it look as if Boris Johnson never tabled his two motions for a general election before prorogation.

Dishonest Labour — the perfect party for lo-fo voters and a clear danger to the nation:

I hope Labour never again see power during my lifetime. Thirteen years of them (1997-2010) was almost more than I could bear.

Despite the Labour Party conference, which normally produces a positive bounce in the polls, the Conservatives are still ahead. Why hasn’t Britain Elects updated their party leaders photo?

People also want a general election:

Brexit negotiations difficult

The Benn-Burt bill, which received royal assent on September 9 and forces the PM to ask the EU for an extension if there is no deal, has made the Prime Minister’s and the government’s Brexit negotiations very difficult. This was the status on September 21:

Nevertheless, Boris and his Brexit ministers soldier on.

The following took place on Thursday, September 26:

Michael Gove says that the No Deal Brexit committee has been meeting frequently:

Another Brexit meeting, announced yesterday, took place today:

Boris’s statement

Boris gave a statement to MPs at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday about the ‘zombie Parliament’, the longest since the Civil War in the 17th century. Brexit Central has the full transcript. Excerpts follow:

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict and the way forward for this paralysed Parliament.

Three years ago, more people voted to leave the European Union than have ever voted for any party or proposition in our history.

Politicians of all parties promised the public that they would honour the result.

Sadly, many have since done all they could to abandon those promises and to overturn that democratic vote.

And after three years of dither and delay – that left this country at risk of being locked forever in the orbit of the EU – this government that I lead has been trying truly to get us out.

And most people – indeed most supporters of the party opposite — regardless of how they voted three years ago — think the referendum must be respected. They want Brexit done, I want Brexit done, people want us out on 31 October — with a new deal if possible but without if necessary.

64 days ago, I was told that Brussels would never reopen the Withdrawal Agreement. We are now discussing a reopened Withdrawal Agreement in the negotiations.

I was told that Brussels would never consider alternatives to the backstop – the trap that keeps the UK effectively in the EU but with no say.

We are now discussing those alternatives in the negotiations.

I was told Brussels would never consider arrangements that were not permanent. We are now discussing in the negotiations an arrangement that works on the principle of consent and is not permanent.

I was told there was no chance of a new deal but we are discussing a new deal.

And this is in spite of the best efforts of this Parliament to wreck our negotiations by their attempts to take No Deal off the table.

The truth is the majority in this Parliament are not opposed to the so-called No Deal — this Parliament does not want Brexit to happen at all.

Many of those who voted for the Surrender Act a few weeks ago said then that their intention was to stop a No Deal Brexit.

They have said every day since that Parliament must vote against ANY deal at all.

I think the people of this country can see perfectly clearly what is going on.

They know that this Parliament does not want to honour its promises to respect the referendum.

The people at home know that this Parliament will keep delaying, it will keep sabotaging the negotiations because they don’t want a deal

The public don’t want another referendum – what they want and what they demand, that we honour the promise we made to the voters to respect the first referendum.

And they also want us to move on — to put Brexit behind us and focus on the NHS, on violent crime and on cutting the cost of living.

That is why I also brought forward a Queen’s Speech. My government intends to present a programme for life after Brexit.

But some members of this House could not stand that either. Instead of facing the voters, the opposition turned tail and fled from an election. Instead of deciding to let the voters decide, they ran to the courts instead.

And despite the fact that I followed the exact same process as my predecessors in calling a Queen’s Speech, the Supreme Court was asked to intervene in this process for the first time ever and it is absolutely no disrespect to the judiciary to say I think the Court was wrong to pronounce on what is essentially a political question at a time of great national controversy.

So we have Opposition MPs that block and delay everything running to the courts to block and delay even more — including blocking legislation to improve and invest in our NHS and keeping violent criminals in jail.

The people outside this place understand what is happening

Out of sheer political selfishness and political cowardice members opposite are unwilling to move aside and let the people have their say.

They see MPs demanding that the people be given a say, then running scared from the election that would provide them with one.

And worst of all they see ever-more elaborate legal and political manoeuvres from the party opposite which is determined, absolutely determined, to say “we know best” and thumb their noses at the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union.

The Leader of the Opposition and his party do not trust the people.

The Leader of the Opposition and his party are determined to overthrow the referendum result whatever the cost.

They do not care about the bill for hundreds of millions of pounds that will come with every week of delay.

They don’t care if another year or more is wasted arguing about a referendum that happened three years ago.

All that matters to them now is an obsessive desire to overrule the referendum result

I have to confess, Mr Speaker, that I was a little shocked to discover that the party whose members stood up in Brighton this week and repeatedly – and in the most strident terms – demanded an election, I hear them, is the very same party whose members have already this month – not once but twice – refused to allow the people to decide on their next government.

For two years they have demanded an election but twice they have voted against it …

So if in fact the party opposite does not in fact have confidence in the government, they will have a chance to prove it….I think they should listen to this Mr Speaker.

They have until the House rises today to table a motion of no confidence in the government, and we can have that vote tomorrow.

Or if any of the other parties, the smaller parties fancy a go, they can table that motion, we’ll give you the time for that vote

It is time for this Parliament finally to take responsibility for its decisions. We decided to call that referendum. We promised time and again to respect it.

I think the people of this country have had enough of it — this Parliament must either stand aside and let this government get Brexit done or bring a vote of confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters.

And I commend this statement to the House.

No one from the opposition benches put forward a motion for either an election or a vote of no confidence.

People watching at home thought the PM’s speech was excellent.

The language issue

On Wednesday, Boris deplored the Benn-Burt bill in his above address and referred to it as the Surrender Act.

He is absolutely correct.

Opposition MPs took exception and said he should not refer to it as such, because MPs’ feelings were hurt. We watched the proceedings on television and do not understand how they arrived at that conclusion.

Boris also said ‘humbug’, which opposition benches also found hurtful.

A Labour MP, Paula Sherriff, then brought up Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered in cold blood just days before the 2016 referendum.

The Prime Minister replied tactfully and mentioned Jo Cox’s name, saying that she would have wanted Brexit to go ahead in line with the referendum vote, the people’s will.

The media seized on this by making it sound like the PM brought up Jo Cox’s name first. He most certainly did not. That link also has videos of Ms Sherriff, which do not show her in a flattering light.

Ms Cox’s widower, Brendan, had this to say. I listened to the PM and did not hear him demonise the late MP in any way, but Mr Cox might have heard about the exchange second hand:

The atmosphere in Wednesday’s evening session was appalling. Speaker of the House John Bercow did very little to keep order. Opposition MPs spoke over the PM, they shouted in a hostile manner and Bercow said practically nothing.

On Thursday, talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer interviewed a virtue-signalling Liberal Democrat MP:

Previously, she interviewed another virtue-signalling Lib Dem MP. Note the contrast in tone from said MP:

She gave a short message to opposition MPs on Brexit and language:

The language issue was debated at lunchtime on Thursday in Parliament.

Opposition MPs spoke of death threats.

Well, Conservatives have been on the receiving end of threatening behaviour, too, as Vicky Ford MP pointed out during the debate.

A little over a year ago, anti-Brexit people demonstrated outside of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s house, with his children present, more about which below.

Only a few days ago, a rapper accepting a music award held a dripping head effigy of Boris Johnson.

Threats are happening to MPs on both sides of the House of Commons:

Opposition language — the truth

In Thursday’s debate on language, following a statement by Labour MP Jess Phillips, who has also received death threats, a Conservative MP brought up Labour MP John McDonnell’s wish to assassinate Margaret Thatcher.

Of course, Speaker Bercow shut that down pretty fast.

Let us look at what John McDonnell said some time ago:

Backbencher has an excellent article explaining the full nasty and violent context of McDonnell’s aforementioned statements.

Another MP with the first name of John has also used foul and insulting language, directed below at a Conservative MP:

Here is a past video from the aforementioned Jess Phillips about her own party leader:

Also this (click on second tweet to see it in full):

Also:

And this:

And what about the language used in Remainer protests? ‘Betrayal’? ‘Treason May’?

That’s mild compared to this:

If those examples are not convincing enough, Guido Fawkes has many more.

After all is said and done, PLEASE leave everyone to their opinions!

No threats, please!

Let us live in peace, whatever our views!

As the wise Church of England clergyman, the Reverend Marcus Walker points out:

No adjournment for Conservative Party conference

The main opposition parties, Labour and the Lib Dems, have had their party conferences but voted against an adjournment for a few days next week for the Conservatives to have theirs.

How petty:

I could not agree more with the following opinion:

Certain cross-party bills will be tabled for next week, as the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, agreed with MPs on Thursday afternoon.

More to follow next week.

The parliamentary logjam surrounding Brexit is breathtaking.

For those who have not been following, this was the state of play on Britain’s official Leave date, established in 2017:

The other day, I elaborated on Remainer Parliamentarians not following through on the result of the Brexit referendum in June 2016. That post provides background on what happened on Monday, April 1, 2019.

Leavers voted to break away from the EU because of its undemocratic nature.

Now Leavers find that their own MPs are scuppering that referendum result.

Recall that in the June 2017 general election, both Conservative and Labour manifestos pledged to honour the referendum result.

Early this year, Leavers began finding out how undemocratic Remain MPs have been. We’ve seen them vote against No Deal and Theresa May’s alternative Brexit deal. We’ve seen them propose various motions that would overturn the referendum result:

This is a cross-party effort to stop Brexit.

One has to ask who is less democratic: the EU or Remain MPs?

April Fool’s Day in Parliament

Last week, Remain Conservative MP Oliver Letwin’s motion to allow indicative votes on Brexit alternatives produced eight from as many MPs. None of them passed.

On Monday, April 1, Speaker of the House John Bercow (Remain) put forward four of those motions for a second vote on Monday.

These are the motions they voted on:

C: Permanent customs union with the EU (Kenneth Clarke, Conservative Remainer)

D: Membership in European Free Trade Association (Efta) and European Economic Area (EEA) (Nick Boles, Conservative Remainer)

E: Confirmatory public vote on any parliamentary Brexit deal prior to ratification (Peter Kyle, Labour)

G: Extend Article 50 with parliamentary right to decide next steps (Joanna Cherry, Scottish National Party)

Once again, none passed:

The Guardian has a useful page with each MP’s vote. It is interesting to see how many Conservative and Labour MPs are violating their party’s manifesto pledges on Brexit.

On that topic, this is an illustrative comment from a Guido Fawkes reader on Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who voted to trigger Article 50 but is now showing her true Remain colours:

Cooper, whose constituency voted 70% to 30% to leave said just before she voted in favor of Article 50 that “Nobody said at any time ‘you know what, I am not going to respect the result afterwards’ – that’s the kind of thing Donald Trump says.”

She must have meant Hillary Clinton. Anyway:

Prospects of deselection for Yvette – hopefully very high. There was always going to be a conflict between Islington lefties dropped into Northern working class seats, and the voters in those seat[s].

Other MPs have vacillated, changing their minds between the two indicative voting sessions on Ken Clarke’s Custom Union:

Speaking of a permanent Customs Union, Conservative Party members rightly reject it. Look what does have the rank and file members’ approval — No Deal and PM May’s deal:

Guido Fawkes says (emphasis in the original):

ConHome have done their own set of indicative votes among the Tory membership, finding massive grassroots opposition to any of the options apart from No Deal. Nearly 90% are opposed to Customs Union membership, revoking Article 50 or a second referendum, while 79% oppose ‘Common Market 2.0’, with barely double figures in favour of them. It’s daft that otherwise sensible ministers and MPs are even thinking of adopting the worst possible Brexit outcome…

One of Guido’s readers put it this way (emphases mine):

I’ve said it before and I will say it again.

When I voted in the referendum in June 2016, the thing that mostly closely resembles what I thought I was voting for is what is currently called “no deal Brexit”.

I really don’t want to be in the Single Market or Customs Union. I’m not interested in a “close and special relationship” with the EU – an ordinary one like Canada and the Australia has with it is fine. I’m not interested in the European Arrest Warrant and their criminal databases (which we mostly contribute to). I couldn’t give two hoots about pet passports or mobile phone roaming charges.

I voted for full independence.

The reader later added this:

I am sorry to say that I voted Conservative.

At the time, I believed the Conservative Party and Theresa May were committed to leaving the EU in a meaningful way.

Sadly, I was mistaken.

Compounding the dissatisfaction are the divisions appearing within the political parties themselves as evidenced by MPs last night:

After vote, Remainer Conservative resigns

After yesterday’s indicative votes were announced, Conservative MP Nick Boles, a Remainer, announced he was resigning his role as whip — and leaving the Conservative Party:

He then left the Chamber for the evening.

There’s more here:

But this is not about compromise. It is about delivering Brexit, preferably World Trade Organization style:

Boles was upset that he got fewer votes on his motion from his fellow Conservatives:

April 2 – it gets worse

Leave supporters went to bed on Monday knowing that the indicative votes did not pass.

However, Remainers will not give up:

Sure enough. Around noon on Tuesday, Remainers had struck again …

… despite the fact that:

Guido’s post on the latest Remain wheeze to block Brexit tells us (emphases in the original):

… the Cooper/Boles/Benn/Letwin shadow Government have significant escalated their takeover plans, with Yvette Cooper tabling a full-on Brexit-blocking Bill which they will try to ram through the Commons tomorrow. The Bill tries to block a no-deal Brexit by ordering the PM to seek yet another Article 50 extension from the EU.

The plotters aren’t even trying to use the excuse any more that they’re just trying to let Parliament have its say, by trying to force through an entire Act of Parliament they are taking on the mantle of a Government but with none of the accountability or scrutiny that should involve. All in the name of blocking the country’s biggest ever democratic vote…

Here is an excellent observation on the matter:

This is a benign analysis:

The reality is more like this. This QC (Queen’s Counsel) asks pertinent questions:

This could be very bad news indeed, especially for the main Leave group of Conservatives, the ERG (European Research Group):

Meanwhile, as I was writing this post this afternoon, the Cabinet was still meeting at No. 10:

Next steps

This is the likely schedule in Parliament for the next few days:

More anon.

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