Let me start by stating that I have the upmost respect for the judicial process and the rule of law. The Government has confirmed that it will abide by the judgement, something that was never in doubt, while respectfully disagreeing with the Supreme Court’s decision.
Prorogation is a royal prerogative, meaning it is exercised by the Monarch on the advice of Ministers. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, The Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, and the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, Dame Victoria Sharp, originally ruled in the High Court that the Prime Minister’s decision to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was a political matter and not one the courts should review.
Parliament sat for four days between returning from Summer Recess and the prorogation. In that time Parliament passed an entire Act of Parliament. The House of Commons could also have voted no confidence in the Government, which would have prevented prorogation from taking place.
To be clear, the current session of Parliament has lasted longer than any in the last 400 years. We need a new parliamentary session and we need to move forward. One thing the Brexit debate has not lacked is time for Parliament to discuss the issue. Over 500 hours in the chamber, over 200 hours of Select Committee time and thousands of hours of other meetings of various ‘groups’ and other discussions have occurred in Parliament.
What has been missing throughout the last three years has been a pragmatic consensus from across the House.
In the four days we sat after Summer Recess the Government gave the House of Commons two opportunities to vote for a General Election. I supported the Government on both occasions. The House rejected this course of action.
The current situation is not sustainable. The House of Commons has rejected the Withdrawal Agreement on three occasions, a second referendum twice and a general election twice. Crucially, it is hindering efforts to leave the EU with a negotiated deal and deliver on the result of the referendum.
Finally, following the last two days I really feel it is incumbent on all of us in this place to lead by example. A calm, respectful, pragmatic approach is a good place to start.