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The only consolation for the Labour Party is that, while their party conference was a disaster, the Conservative government experienced one of its worst weeks in living memory.

Brutal fights broke out at a handful of petrol stations while the fuel shortage raged on, ginned up by the media, led by the BBC, as one can see in this poll from YouGov:

Government ministers were few on the ground, leaving the public wondering who was in charge. Dan Wootton of GB News gave this scathing editorial on Tuesday, September 28:

It’s a disaster, especially the lorry driver shortage:

While all of this was going on, Labour Party members descended on the seaside resort of Brighton last weekend for their annual conference, which began on Saturday.

The first few days were taken up with party governance and policy issues. Tuesday and Wednesday featured the big-hitter speeches from shadow cabinet members, culminating with a speech from party leader, Sir Keir Starmer.

The big speeches are what most of the media will pay attention to, however, the early days of the conference revealed the most about who and what defines Labour.

Guido Fawkes and GB News kept a gimlet eye on proceedings throughout.

Fair wages

First of all, there was the question of how much Labour’s conference stewards were being paid. Labour continually talk about raising the minimum wage, but fall far short from implementing it themselves:

Guido’s accompanying post concludes (emphases in the original):

Stewards will be made to work everyday from 25 September through to 29 September from 8:00am to 20:00. Short changing the low paid stewards who will be working the conference floor as they debate a motion calling for £10 per hour minimum wage… 

UPDATE: Richard Holden MP says “This is utter hypocrisy from Labour. As usual, they demand one thing in public but can’t even practice what they preach behind closed doors with their own staff.”

Not only can Labour not implement their own policy, but Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds does not even know what the minimum wage is, as the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday:

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds was left red-faced today as he floundered over the current level of the minimum wage.

The frontbencher struggled as he was asked for the figure – £8.91 per hour – during a round of interviews.  

Pushed by LBC radio host Nick Ferrari, Mr Thomas-Symonds said: ‘It’s… certainly it’s below £10 er, Nick, I don’t know off the top of my head.’

Challenged that he probably should have checked the figure amid a row with left-wingers who are calling for it to be hiked to £15 an hour, the MP said: ‘Er, perhaps yes. I’m just being quite honest with you.’

Hopeless.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner calls Conservatives ‘scum’

The most memorable event of conference was a fringe event on Saturday, September 25, where deputy leader Angela Rayner called the Conservatives ‘scum’:

I’m sick of shouting from the sidelines, and I bet youse lot are too. We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile … of banana republic…Etonian…piece of scum…and I held back a little…that I have ever seen in my life…

She later tried to defend the remark, claiming that calling people ‘scum’ was a term of endearment used in the north of England. However, many Northerners have since said that it is not.

On Sunday, she claimed she was talking only about Boris Johnson:

However, as you can see from the quote above, she used the words ‘bunch of’, indicating that she meant the whole party. In the video above, Trevor Phillips says that she is implicating Conservative voters as well.

He has a point, one with which the new Conservative Party chair, Oliver Dowden MP, agrees:

By Monday, Guido had unearthed more from Saturday night (language alert):

Guido’s post on the subject says:

Presumably Keir will want to have another ‘private conversation’ explaining how Labour getting into government requires them to win over Tory voters, not insult them…

On Monday, Rayner’s colleague Emily Thornberry MP told BBC Politics Live that drink might have been involved:

However, this is not the first time Rayner has called Conservatives scum. On October 21, 2020, she called Conservative MP Chris Clarkson ‘scum’, which, fortunately, he brought to the Deputy Speaker of the House’s attention at the time. I watched the proceedings on television when it happened. Here’s the video:

Rayner later apologised, but outside of the Commons.

Gender identity politics

Another dismal conference memory will be the lingering gender identity controversy. Rosie Duffield MP said she did not feel that the conference would be safe for her to attend. Only three years ago, then-MP Luciana Berger did not attend because of anti-Semitism:

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg once needed a bodyguard at conference.

Hmm. All three are women:

Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle (Lab) was appalled that Duffield felt she could not attend, but Keir Starmer did not stand up for her:

The gender identity question ran and ran throughout the week.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves clearly did not want to go there, burbling to LBC’s Nick Ferrari when he asked her an anatomical question about women:

Deputy leader Angela Rayner, who became a grandmother at the age of 35, was not afraid of the topic and clearly does not see the world the way Rosie Duffield does:

Six other MPs took the same line as Rayner, which should ring alarm bells with every woman. David Lammy, pictured below, told the BBC that women insisting on their own spaces were ‘dinosaurs’ wanting to ‘hoard rights’. Here’s the image in full:

Meanwhile, looking on from outside the scenes, a man who transitioned to a woman agrees with Duffield:

By Tuesday, September 28, ministers speaking at related fringe events left early:

Guido pointed out that this did not happen at other fringe events:

Labour LGBT+ have held packed fringe events for the past two days at Conference, and Guido’s noticed a bit of a pattern: the high-profile shadow cabinet panelists (Rayner, Thomas-Symonds, Dodds) have all conveniently left their respective sessions early. Usually just before they’re confronted with awkward questions about Rosie Duffield…

Busy as no doubt they are, this sort of behaviour doesn’t appear to be happening as much at other fringe events; Guido noticed Anneliese Dodds had plenty of time to field questions with the Fabian Society yesterday, and Angela Rayner is, of course, perfectly happy to spend her hours calling the Tories “scum” in front of Labour activists. When it comes to acknowledging the transphobia row in their own party, though, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Thomas-Symonds did at least offer an anodyne soundbite about standing for trans rights in response to one question yesterday, though he soon left afterwards – the Q&A continued for about another 15 minutes.

Stephen Daisley, writing for The Spectator, has more on how this played out at conference, including a women’s meeting that had to held in secret because of a related protest. Terrible.

Labour staff redundancies on hold

A few months ago, Keir Starmer planned to make 90 workers at Labour HQ redundant. That did not go down well with their union, which threatened a picket at conference.

Starmer backed down …

… as Guido reported on September 3:

Labour general secretary David Evans has avoided the prospect of a picket line at Labour conference, after telling staff this afternoon, “I am pleased to say that at this stage we see no need to consider compulsory redundancies as part of this process”. Many are picking up on the key phrase being “at this stage”. Guido doubts there’s been any notable uptick in Labour’s finances in recent months, suggesting the required 90 sacking are still necessary in the near future – i.e. post-conference. For now, at least, it seems their biggest Brighton headache will be the membership, not the staff…

We’ll see what happens in early October.

Labour members allying with Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn lost the 2019 election with the worst results for Labour since 1935.

Keir Starmer succeeded him as party leader in 2020.

Nonetheless, Labour has been divided between Corbynites and Blairites (Starmer).

On Saturday, General Secretary Dave Evans boldly stated that he became a party member because he likes Corbyn:

This is problematic for Starmer.

That same day, The Times reported on solidly middle class Putney in south-west London, which voted Labour in 2019. The paper’s reporter had trouble finding Starmer supporters (emphases mine):

as he embarks on his first party conference at the head of Labour this weekend, with the pandemic finally beginning to fade from the headlines, Starmer is determined to command the nation’s attention.

If the view from Putney is anything to go by, he has a long way to go. It took me three hours on the streets of the southwest London constituency on Thursday afternoon to find anything resembling a Starmerite. Most responses ranged from unmoved to profoundly unimpressed.

“Starmer is just middle of the road,” said Nick Godfrey, 68, a retired brewery operator and lifelong Labour voter. “He gives Boris and his clowns an easy ride. He gets in a few jabs at Prime Minister’s Questions and thinks he’s won the war” …

“A bright light on a dark night” was how the victorious Labour MP Fleur Anderson described Putney in 2019. That was putting it mildly: the seat was the only one Labour managed to wrestle from the Tories in the entire country. As the working-class fiefdoms of the red wall crumbled, Putney showed that metropolitan Labour is alive and well. So if Starmer can’t do well here, he’s probably toast.

That’s certainly the view of Helen and Gemma, two self-described “typical Putney mums” I found chatting over a cappuccino at Hudsons, a popular café. “I had high hopes for him but I think he’s a bit ineffectual,” Gemma said. “This should be Labour’s time really, with a lot going wrong in the country. But I think they need somebody a bit more charismatic. He’s bland, a bit nasal.”

Helen voted Conservative at the last election, but she could be tempted by the right Labour leader. “I thought Starmer might have something to offer, but I don’t think he does,” she said. “He’s weak and a bit insipid. I thought he might be charismatic and he’s not.”

On Monday, World Transformed held a fringe event entitled, ‘Starmer Out?’

It appears to have attracted a lot of Jeremy Corbyn supporters:

Starmer’s Shadow Employment minister quits

On Monday, Starmer’s Shadow Employment minister, Andy McDonald, tendered his resignation:

Guido has the full text of McDonald’s letter, in which the MP expresses his disappointment that Starmer has not done anything to further a £15 minimum hourly wage, neglected his ten pledges as Leader of the Opposition and broke a commitment to socialist policies.

Labour are socialist to the core. This is what McDonald wrote:

I joined your frontbench team on the basis of the pledges that you made in the leadership campaign to bring about unity within the party and maintain our commitment to socialist policies.

That’s all you need to know about Labour, comrade.

McDonald also wrote an article for The Tribune about the reasons for his resignation:

It was rumoured that Jeremy Corbyn had a hand to play in this badly-timed resignation for Starmer, but Corbyn denied it:

Corbyn’s advice on winning an election

Amazingly, on Tuesday at a fringe meeting, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader with the worst election results for the party since 1935, was allowed to advise on winning an election:

He was coy when asked about running as an independent candidate for MP.

Some long-time Blairite MPs, such as Barry Gardiner, want Starmer to bring Corbyn back into the party for unity’s sake:

Starmer told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that Corbyn would have to apologise and remove an offensive online post of his:

Getting rid of Starmer is a real preoccupation. Several Corbynite MPs sit in the Commons, such as Zara Sultana:

Keir Starmer’s speech

On Wednesday, Sir Keir Starmer gave a closing speech to conference.

Starmer is a lawyer. In the old days, they were paid by the word, so they were verbose.

Times have not changed. Starmer’s speech lasted 90 minutes:

This is most of what one needs to know:

Other words that did not make the speech were ‘comrade’, ‘solidarity’ and ‘Corbyn’:

Starmer’s speech came the day after a union broke away from Labour …

… and the day after The Mirror‘s party for delegates featured Tony Blair’s 1997 campaign song, D:Ream’s 1993 hit, Things Can Only Get Better:

Guido thought that should have been the tune played as Starmer walked up to the podium; it would have driven the Corbynistas mad and boosted Labour five points in the polls.

However, the song played was Fat Boy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now, possibly because he and Starmer took violin lessons together at secondary school.

Starmer was heckled from the get go:

Here’s another, with Sir Keir responding with a joke about Prime Minister’s Questions:

It won a stammering Starmer a standing ovation. He stopped stammering after that, having found his footing.

He delivered a weak one-liner about his father and Boris’s:

Starmer likes to say that his father was a tool maker, making him sound working class. In reality, Starmer’s father owned a tool making company. A working class boy’s parents cannot afford a violin, let alone the lessons.

Tool making was a big theme:

The heckling continued:

Here’s another:

This is the woman:

In addition to the heckling, there was also a silent red card protest:

Starmer’s detractors might have made him look better in the eyes of most delegates — and the public, assuming anyone watched the speech:

Guido has all nine on a short video:

Starmer channelled his inner Blair, who famously said ‘Education, education, education’ in 1997:

Kevin Maguire, a Labour-supporting journalist, rationalised the length of the speech, as last year’s was cancelled because of coronavirus:

I feel sorry for anyone who had to listen to the whole thing:

Regardless of what Starmer said on Wednesday before the party faithful (here’s the full 7,286 word transcript), below is an excerpt of an article he wrote when he was younger (also see page 21 of the July-August 1986 edition of Socialist Alternatives). He discusses revolutionary movements, saying that an economic downturn coalesces young people and the working class in a move away from conservatism:

https://image.vuukle.com/981fa537-b148-41d5-b2e6-01cd1327508e-62e7b38b-c1dd-4faa-83a7-52f2cf87cc39

It is unlikely he has moved too far from that view over the years.

More identity politics

In addition to the sexual identity politics discussed above, there were other issues that popped up during conference, including that of race.

On Sunday, September 26, Mark Ferguson, a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee and of mixed race, told his audience that too many white men had their hands up waiting to ask a question:

Ferguson stated that his instruction pertained to all conference debates, not just that particular one, as GB News reported:

“But I do not want white men to exclusively dominate this or any other debate at this conference and following on from my comrade in the chair this morning, I do wish to see the diversity of the hall reflected.

“I’m not putting anybody on the spot here, but if you want to speak do not be afraid to put your hand up, we want to hear from you, this is an inclusive conference.”

GB News asked for the eminently sensible opinion of Graham Stringer MP, who would make a great party leader. Stringer said that it is the role of the chairman at the podium to regulate the balance, not the delegates themselves:

Yet more identity politics

This lady gave a speech deploring flash photography, a mainstay of party political conferences. It’s always there.

I was waiting for a mention of jazz hands. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one:

She even complained about a clock near the stage. She said it should have been on the left rather than the right:

The young radicals

The media never say that some Labour members are outright Marxists.

I am posting these two speeches because the young radicals making them could one day be sitting in the House of Commons.

Hannah from Edinburgh was raised in Middlesbrough, England, and was upset about her impoverished upbringing. Therefore, she advocates socialism with full enthusiasm:

This chap gave an equally impassioned speech about climate change and an internationalist, socialist approach:

On Monday, conference delegates passed a motion from Young Labour condemning Israel.

LabourList reported:

Delegates at the Labour Party annual conference in Brighton have today passed by a show of hands a composite motion on Israel and Palestine put forward by Young Labour that condemns “Israel’s continuing illegal actions”.

Moving the motion, Young Labour’s Jawad Khan said that the motion would “bring us one step closer to finally ending the shameful century of British complicity and the denial of the right to self-determination, liberation and return”.

Also addressing the annual party gathering ahead of the vote this afternoon, Labour Friends of Israel chair Steve McCabe argued that the motion was “too shouty, too angry, too one-sided and not at all focused on the search for peace”.

He told the conference delegates that it was “completely hostile to the people of Israel”, adding: “If Labour had adopted this approach in Northern Ireland, we would never have got to the Good Friday agreement.”

Guido has more on what Steve McCabe MP, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said about the motion:

Former MPs the public do not want to see

The conference saw the re-emergence of former MPs the public no longer want to see.

Keith Vaz

Leicester’s Keith Vaz, who, in darker aspects of his private life claimed to be a washing machine salesman, spoke at a Hindus for Labour fringe event on Monday. What were they thinking?

Vaz’s successor is no better, by the way:

Guido’s post on Vaz’s appearance says:

Vaz’s presence comes just four days after a parliamentary investigation found his bullying behaviour to have been “hostile, sustained, harmful and unworthy of a member of parliament”, writing that he “should be ashamed”…

Not only is Keith Vaz still allowed to remain a Labour member, he recently took up a role on the party’s local government committee in Leicester. Not a good look…

John Bercow

John Bercow was Speaker of the House at the time the Brexit debate in Parliament was at its worst. He always took the side of the Remainers. He only stood down once Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

Bercow came in as Speaker as a notional Conservative, then disavowed himself from the party.

After standing down as Speaker, he joined the Labour Party and spoke at a fringe meeting on Tuesday.

The Daily Mail reported:

Political turncoat John Bercow shamelessly hailed his new Labour ‘comrades’ last night – but insisted he had not quit the Tories in search of a safe Commons seat.

The former right wing Tory MP made his debut at the opposition party’s conference in Brighton by offering advice on how to defeat the ‘worst Government of his lifetime’ at a fringe meeting …

On what the party should do next, he said: ‘The Labour Party has got to excite people. It has got to excite people. It is not good enough to just have a good set of good policies.

‘In fact, I would go as far as to say, that my feeling is that the Labour Party in the next election doesn’t need to have a a vastly, detailed, lengthy manifesto with dozens and dozens of commitments.’

The former Commons Speaker added: ‘The Labour Party has got to thrust to the fore alongside Keir who is a formidable prosecutor, a formidable advocate, and other personalities part of the leadership team, which can reach out to people and persuade people that they are different from and preferable to this shower, which frankly represents the worst government of my lifetime.’

On Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Bercow said he is a ‘good guy’ but that the Labour Party has got to develop a ‘narrative’ and clear policies’.

When asked about Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, who recently described senior Tories as ‘scum’, Mr Bercow said he would have not chosen that term but insisted people should not get on their ‘moral high horses’ about it.

What Bercow really wants is a seat in the House of Lords. Fortunately, Boris has not deigned to give him that privilege.

Coronavirus caution out the window

On Monday, the conference organisers went against their earlier pledge for a safe environment with regard to coronavirus, especially with vaccine passes.

I went out that day. Although the morning was rainy, the sun shone in the afternoon.

Nevertheless, Labour ditched coronavirus passes, required for large gatherings:

Guido posted a copy of the Labour Party email on the subject and said:

Having spent the weekend insisting attendees show either a vaccine pass or a negative lateral flow result upon entry to the conference, it looks like Labour have now decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. As of this morning, security is no longer checking for passes, instead conducting random spot checks on those already in the venue – long after attendees could have spread Covid around the conference centre. In an email to members they claim “adverse weather conditions” mean it’s just easier to let everyone in and check a few once they’re inside…

When Labour announced the measures last month, they insisted checks were necessary to “reduce risk and to provide reassurance to those attending“, and that they were “working hard” to make sure everyone was safe. Sir Keir even claimed “passports on their own aren’t enough […] It’s got to be passports plus testing.” Mother nature has seemingly put a stop to that – although it’s currently 18 degrees and sunny in Brighton…

If they continue to be holier than thou about mask wearing in the Commons when they return in October, I hope the Conservatives will give them some grief for their hypocrisy:

Conclusion

It is hard to disagree with this summation from Patrick Christys of GB News on the disaster this party conference was:

The ordinary member of the public finds party conferences boring. The main speeches are a lot of hot air. However, what is worth noting are the fringe meetings and the other less significant events, because those reflect the party’s true identity.

Labour have not changed a bit. The socialists still want to run this country down.

The coronavirus lockdown has certainly contributed to the rising ratings for BBC Parliament and parliamentlive.tv.

More people are tuning in and the BBC have restyled the chyron on their screen to make it more user friendly. We now know what the debate topic is as soon as we tune in.

However, ratings for televised coverage of Parliament began climbing in 2015, when David Cameron was Prime Minister.

On February 12, 2016, Total Politics reported (emphases mine, apart from the italics):

BBC Parliament has reported a record high of an average of two million viewers a month for the first time ever in 2015.

This is an increase of 150,000 viewers each month on the 2014 figures – and it marks the first time the BBC’s dedicated parliamentary channel has broken the two million viewers per month threshold.

The channel has more live coverage than ever before and covers proceedings from Westminster, the European parliament, the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies and the Scottish Parliament.

BBC Parliament controller Peter Knowles told TP:

“Providing more live coverage of the key political debates and discussions has meant that during 2015, a dramatic year in politics, we’ve seen a surge in people using BBC Parliament to follow proceedings.

New camera positions are also giving our coverage a fresh feel as this parliamentary term is now in full flow.”

Apparently the new camera angles, brought in last year, represent the first such change since 1989. According to a BBC spokesman, the new camera angles “bring audiences closer to the key exchanges, debates and votes”.

So much for the public being turned off by politicians

In 2020, in a review of the 2017-2019 Parliament under Theresa May’s premiership and with John Bercow as egotistical Speaker of the House, The Institute for Government stated:

Members of the public can now view parliamentary proceedings on a variety of platforms. Run by the parliamentary Digital Service, parliamentlive.tv is the most comprehensive source of parliamentary video and audio, publishing recordings of all events – including meetings of select committees – taking place in public.[24] The site allows members of the public to watch events live, access video on demand and search archive footage going back to December 2007. It is also possible to download clips from parliamentlive.tv – with nearly one thousand clips downloaded on average each week between 5 March 2018 and 30 December 2019. These clips are often shared by MPs, interest groups and political parties on social media. BBC Parliament also carries live coverage of key parliamentary activity.

Parliamentary tensions over Brexit were a massive driver of viewers for Parliamentlive.tv

Average daily viewer numbers increased over 150% from 6,552 per day in 2017 to 16,607 per day in 2019. BBC Parliament also saw record viewing figures – the only BBC TV channel experiencing an increase in viewers. An average of one million adults tuned into the channel for at least three minutes each week during 2019, with viewing figures exceeding two million in several key weeks. One commentator described the channel as “the ratings hit that’s Big Brother meets 24 – with added Bercow”.[25]

Controversial and compelling Brexit debates continued when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

On Wednesday, September 4, 2019, the Radio Times reported:

BBC Parliament hit an all-time ratings high on Tuesday as Boris Johnson suffered his first defeat as Prime Minister, with MPs voting to take control of the House of Commons in order to force a vote on a bill that will prevent a no deal Brexit.

Some 1.5m viewers tuned in across the course of the day, marking the biggest 24 hours for the channel on record.

The drama in Westminster continues into Wednesday, as opposition parties and Tory rebels lead a debate on Labour politician Hilary Benn’s bill to block a no deal Brexit …

The channel is providing live coverage from the House of Commons throughout the ongoing Brexit crisis, and it is captivating the nation – even drawing viewers away from the beloved Great British Bake Off, which aired its latest episode on Channel 4.

The Radio Times article included two tweets, the first of which is from British television’s most famous money pundit, Martin Lewis:

Last year:

Even on less contentious days, the debates can be absorbing, such as a recent closing debate about the threat to driving tests in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, not far from London. I watched it while preparing dinner when it aired, and it was compelling. Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges, who is actress/former MP Glenda Jackson’s son, tweeted:

Once one starts watching Parliament in action, it is difficult to stop. We get to know the MPs and predict what they will say. With coronavirus, we have the added bonus of seeing what the interiors of their houses look like.

The day’s order papers are on the PARLY and House of Commons Twitter feeds:

The most recent development in broadcasting from the Houses of Parliament is a new fit-for-purpose gallery, which Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle visited on Tuesday, March 2, 2021:

In a further development, Chancellor for the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will be giving the first-ever press conference about the budget on national television following his statement in Parliament on March 3. Guido Fawkes has more:

After presenting his budget in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the Chancellor will scarper over to No. 10 to take questions on it from the public and journalists from 5pm. The televised event will be the first of its kind on Budget Day …

More on that and the budget tomorrow.

In case you haven’t read them, don’t miss Parts 1 and 2 of my series on today’s modern Conservative Party.

Part 1 includes a glimpse on one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ancestors, a Muslim from Turkey.

Today’s post focuses solely on another MP who was elected in 2010, when David Cameron became Prime Minister: Sajid Javid.

Sajid Javid (Bromsgrove)

Sajid Javid’s life story is a true lesson on the wrong type of education.

Not all school guidance advisers are good ones.

One can only hope that Sajid Javid’s are having difficulty swallowing their respective lunches. Even if they vote Labour, I hope they follow Conservative Party news.

How many of Javid’s teachers and advisers got far enough in life to work at JPMorgan and serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer? None of them!

The beginning

Although Sajid Javid was born in Rochdale, Lancashire, to a Pakistani family, he grew up in Bristol, in the south-West of England.

Today, Bristol is a very leftist city, sadly, as is the city’s university.

Perhaps it wasn’t when Sajid Javid was growing up.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer (July 2019 – February 2019), succeeded by Rishi Sunak, is sure to make a comeback sooner rather than later.

However, his teachers and advisors clearly missed his potential in the late 1980s. He was born in 1969.

Perhaps they relied only on the background of his Pakistani parents. His father had been a bus driver in Rochdale and his mother did not speak English until she had lived in England for ten years.

Once the family moved to Bristol, his parents bought a shop. The family lived in a flat above it.

Yet, that was not good enough for Sajid’s teachers and advisors at school.

Adolescence

At the age of 14, while attending a state comprehensive school — an average high school, in American terms — near Bristol, Sajid Javid developed an interest in the stock market and The Financial Times.

Incredibly, at that age, he was able to borrow £500 from a bank in order to invest in stock market shares.

However, his teachers and guidance counsellors took little notice and advised him to become … a TV repairman!

Good grief.

Young adulthood

Javid duly went on to further his studies at Filton Technological College in Stroud (South Gloustershire). From there, he went on to complete his education at the University of Exeter from 1988 to 1991, where he read economics and politics.

During that time, he joined the Conservative Party.

At the age of 20, he campaigned against the Thatcher government’s decisions to join the ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism), joining the UK to the EU.

Early career

Javid left the UK in the early 1990s for New York City.

In 1992, he not only rose to become the youngest vice president of Chase Manhattan Bank, but also served as an aide to Rudy Giuliani’s successful mayoral campaign in 1993.

So much for his career as a TV repairman!

Banking career

Savid Javid, destined by his school to become a TV repairman, worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in South America.

Upon his return to London in 1997, he relocated to Singapore, where he became head of Deutsche Bank’s credit trading, equity convertibles, commodities and private equity businesses in Asia,[24] and was appointed a board member of Deutsche Bank International Limited.

Political career

In 2009, Javid decided to pursue a career in politics.

He was selected to succeed Julie Kirkbride, a Conservative who was standing down from her seat in the Bromsgrove constituency, located in Worcestershire.

He won the May 2010 election by a comfortable margin. He won again in 2015 and 2017. In 2019, he further increased his lead over Labour.

During his early years in Parliament, he served as Economic Secretary to the Treasury (2012-2013) and Financial Secretary to the Treasury (2013-2014).

After that, he served as Secretary of State to three different departments: Culture, Media and Sport (2014-2015); Business, Innovation and Skills (2015-2016) and Housing, Communities and Local Government (2016-2018).

Britons know Javid best as Home Secretary under Theresa May (2018-2019) and as Boris Johnson’s first Chancellor of the Exchequer (2019-2020). He was replaced in February 2020 by Rishi Sunak. Today, Javid is on the Conservative backbenches, still working hard for the people of Bromsgrove.

During his time as Home Secretary, Javid spoke out against ‘sick’ paedophiles who had finally been brought to justice; he said such men would find no favour with him.

He was also committed to reducing harms to children online. The Online Harms white paper was issued in April 2019:

An Online Harms bill is expected to pass Parliament sometime in 2021.

In 2019, Javid’s popularity was such that he was one of those running for Conservative Party leader to replace Theresa May. Boris Johnson won the contest.

In August 2019, as Chancellor, he promoted a no-deal Brexit:

However, Boris’s top adviser at the time, Dominic Cummings, did not seem to like some of Javid’s advisers. In August 2019, Cummings appeared to have been behind the sacking of Javid’s media person, Sonia Khan. She was sacked without Javid’s knowledge, leaving him understandably furious.

In the House of Commons, Javid had to put up with the odious then-Speaker of the House, John Bercow, who interrupted his spending review statement:

This was the substance of Javid’s 2019 spending review, covering a variety of areas:

Things were going so well at the time:

However, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings didn’t like Javid’s spending plans. They did not think Javid was spending enough.

On September 20, 2019, not long after the spending review statement and just before the annual Party conference, the Daily Mail reported that No. 10 was looking at Rishi Sunak as a replacement (emphases mine):

The animosity between No 10 and No 11 Downing Street is over a serious of announcements Mr Johnson wants to make at the Conservative Party Conference at the end of the month.

No 10 is furious at attempts by former leadership challenger Mr Javid to water down some of Mr Johnson’s plans to open the cash taps with a series of announcements to the party faithful in Manchester, the Guardian reported.

Team Javid is said to be furious at the central role being played by divisive Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings, and efforts to bypass the Chancellor in favour of his more accommodating deputy, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak.

A Whitehall source told the website: ‘There is no sign of change, in fact it has got worse

‘Saj [Javid] remains furious because he is not part of the decision-making process on government expenditure. 

‘It all comes from Cummings and a small number of No 10 people. A lot of people are saying that Saj’s days are numbered. No 10 is much happier with Rishi.’ 

Mr Johnson is believed to want to make domestic spending announcements in areas like housing, the NHS and social care, with Mr Javid wanting to take a more cautious, longer-term approach.

It makes one wonder how Javid would have handled the coronavirus crisis spending were he still Chancellor. That’s an interesting question.

At the 2019 Party conference, Javid made another forceful case for the Brexit mandate:

He had planned on having special 50p commemorative coins minted for Brexit that year:

The minting had to wait until the end of January 2020:

I have never seen this coin in real life. Apparently, a limited number were minted, with more to follow later in the year. Coronavirus probably put paid to that plan. What a shame.

Returning to the end of 2019, things were really looking up for Britain:

Boris launched another Brexit campaign for the snap general election held on December 12 that year. He had pledged to negotiate a new Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels, which he did accomplish:

During the campaign, Javid pressed home Conservative values, particularly where the economy and taxes were concerned:

It was a wonderful moment when the election programmes announced early on that Conservatives won by a landslide, even in Northern constituencies that had always voted Labour.

While the first weeks of 2020 left Conservatives heady with excitement, Sajid Javid’s days were far less happy.

At the end of January 2020, a comedian, Shazia Mirza, insulted Javid, and, sadly, a BBC news presenter found it funny (more here):

More importantly, No. 10 continued to plot against the Chancellor.

Boris had a reshuffle planned. On February 13, he told Javid that he (Javid) would have to sack all his advisers and accept those that No. 10 would choose for him.

Not surprisingly, Javid refused to accept those conditions.

I had read that people at No. 10, probably Dominic Cummings, suspected that some of Javid’s advisers were leaking confidential information about government policy to the media. I don’t know how true that is.

Sajid Javid resigned that day and wrote an excellent letter to the Prime Minister:

The BBC pressed him on Dominic Cummings, but he said that the conditions came from the Prime Minister himself, adding:

I don’t believe any self-respecting minister would accept such conditions so therefore I felt the best thing to do was to go.

Of course, he was obliged to give a resignation speech before Parliament, which he did a fortnight later on February 26:

Guido Fawkes urged readers to view it (emphasis in the original):

Watch his properly Conservative, spending restraining, tax cutting resignation speech in full…

At that time, our domestic airline, FlyBe, was in deep trouble financially. Javid had never promised a bailout, nor had his successor Rishi Sunak:

As lockdown took hold, having begun on Monday, March 23, 2020, Sajid Javid’s thoughts turned towards abused children.

On May 30, the Telegraph reported that he would be leading an investigation into sexual abuse of children:

The economic impact of the lockdown will pale by comparison to the “perfect storm” leaving vulnerable children “isolating alongside their abusers”, Sajid Javid has warned.

Writing for The Telegraph, the former Home Secretary said the current restrictions appeared to be facilitating a “surge” in sexual abuse of children which he predicted would be reflected in figures later this year.

Mr Javid is to lead a new “no holds barred” investigation into child sexual abuse in Britain, along with the Centre for Social Justice think tank. Mr Javid said the inquiry would not be impeded by “cultural and political sensitivities” after the men convicted in recent high-profile cases were disproportionately of Pakistani, Kashmiri, Bangladeshi and Bengali heritage.

His intervention follows repeated warnings by children’s charities about the increased risks of child abuse while children are being kept at home during the lockdown.

Last month The Telegraph disclosed that the number of vulnerable children “out of contact” as a result of the lockdown was causing alarm among ministers studying the cost of measures designed to halt the spread of coronavirus.

As we are still in lockdown, with a brief reprieve for a few months last year, this investigation will probably take some time to complete.

On August 17, 2020, although Sajid Javid is still an MP, he began serving as a senior adviser to his former employer JPMorgan, on the bank’s European Advisory Council.

The Financial Times reported:

His role at the bank will be “strictly ringfenced” from his political position and has been signed off by the UK government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, according to a person briefed on the details.

Among other members of the council are Esko Aho, the former Finnish prime minister, and Vittorio Grilli, the former Italian finance minister, who has taken over as chair.

The council is made up of senior business and political leaders from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and meets periodically throughout the year.

“We are delighted to welcome Sajid back to JPMorgan as a senior adviser, and we look forward to drawing upon his in-depth understanding of the business and economic environment to help shape our client strategy across Europe,” the bank said in a statement to the Financial Times.

JPMorgan declined to provide details on how much Mr Javid would be paid.

Conclusion

I am grateful we have Sajid Javid on the Conservative benches.

One wonders what his school teachers think of him now.

I hope that whoever told him that he should be a television repairman has been eating a lot of humble pie over the past few years.

More on Conservative MPs from minority backgrounds will follow tomorrow.

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.

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