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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2019, 03:55 PM

2. A civil war state of mind... (Toynbee)

... This country that self-identified so smugly as stable, tolerant and moderate, with a crown to symbolise traditions honed down the centuries, is revealed as fissile, fragile and ferociously divided. A constitution that relied on gentlemanly governments’ willingness to bow to parliament has evaporated, blown away now it’s led by a man who doesn’t give a damn for parliamentary sovereignty: taking back control is for him alone. He is ready to destroy anything that threatens his ambition.

MPs will try to stop him proroguing them. Astonishingly, this unelected prime minister has so far only spent one day in the Commons under their scrutiny, and now, after five weeks away, he will face them for just one week before banishing them for an unprecedented further five weeks. They get just one tight week to rise up and rebel, when surely they will vote in great numbers against the prorogation the Speaker calls “a constitutional outrage ... an offence against the democratic process and the rights of parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives”. Johnson’s riposte will be, “So what?” Their vote has no legal standing...

... This aggressive provocation of parliament widens the great Brexit divide into a civil war state of mind. This is the battleground Johnson seeks – himself as roguish, freewheeling representative of the people’s will, defender of the referendum versus the Westminster establishment and the elite, as represented by MPs elected to parliament. Explosive, dangerous, unresolvable, David Cameron’s reckless, Tory-pleasing referendum cut right through the constitution, and now it lies badly damaged...


When Charles I arrived in the chamber of the House of Commons in January 1642, armed guards in tow, to arrest a group of MPs for treason, it was the speaker who stood in his way. Instead of giving up the so-called traitors, speaker William Lenthall rebuked the King and reasserted the power of the Commons, telling Charles, “I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as this House is pleased to direct me.”

The struggle for power between executive and legislature is not a new one. But the possibility of John Bercow taking the lead in the battle to stop Brexit offers the prospect of a modern-day stand-off, every bit as compelling as the one that took place in the months before the Civil War.

... As speaker, Bercow alone can decide what’s permitted by parliamentary precedent, and he’s shown himself willing to ignore precedent entirely and to tear up the rules when needed...

... So now will be the time for Bercow to push the nuclear button. I’m sure he will bend parliamentary procedure – or rip it up, depending on your viewpoint – to allow MPs to pass legislation requiring Johnson to seek an extension to Article 50, using a beefed-up version of the Standing Order 24 procedure, allowing for emergency debates. If there’s a prospect of revoking Article 50 before 31 October, Bercow will ensure that there is time for such a law to pass... In doing so, we would face a constitutional crisis like no other seen in modern times, with a direct stand-off between the elected government on one side, and the speaker, standing for some (but by no means all), of the House of Commons on the other...


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Celerity Aug 2019 OP
PoliticAverse Aug 2019 #1
LineNew Reply A civil war state of mind... (Toynbee)
Ghost Dog Aug 2019 #2
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