So the dust is settling (though not the tempers) on John Bercow’s decision to allow an amendment by Tory MP Dominic Grieve. The amendment means that the government now needs to present within three working days a Plan B – should the government’s Plan A be voted down by the House of Commons on January 15th.
It looks almost inevitable that the so-called “meaningful vote” will be defeated. However, it is important to note that we got here because the government pulled the vote before Christmas at the last moment and without any warning. The government wants a winnable vote – not a meaningful one. At the time Speaker Bercow did say that the decision to delay the vote at such short notice was a discourtesy to the House.
It now looks as though Speaker Bercow is on his way out; he knows this already and is prepared to go out defending Parliament.
It is odd though that one of the central planks of Brexit is about “taking back control” and “making Parliament sovereign”. When the Speaker does just that Brexiteers throw tantrums and mutter darkly. It can’t be both ways.
The fact remains that the EU has never been and will never be a threat to UK sovereignty or to the UK Parliament. The current threat remains a minority government using every trick in the book to get its way.
Speaker Bercow intervened when it had become obvious and intolerable that the central government tactic was to run down the clock to 29th March or as close to it as possible – effectively blackmailing Parliament.
These tactics are to be expected – however, the continuing damage caused to the UK economy does not appear to matter to some in Westminster. A look at the news today regarding job losses and poor Christmas trading shows the real issues facing you & I.
The truth is that the government has treated MPs with disdain and the economy as collateral damage. It is right for MPs to take back control – to retake sovereignty.