Defending Parliamentary Sovereignty


From The Guardian:

Johnson has said he will refuse to act on MPs’ wishes, that he will simply not request such an extension from Brussels. To avoid the MPs’ instruction, he would rather empty out the current House of Commons and have a general election to fill a new one, one more sympathetic to his aims. But that can only happen if MPs allow it, by voting for it. Under the current rules, he needs two thirds of the Commons to agree to an early election and Labour has said it won’t do it – fearing a ruse that would allow Johnson to crash out of the EU during an election campaign.

In other words, parliament is asserting itself and its rights, refusing to be pushed around by an overmighty executive (in the form of Johnson this time, rather than King Charles I). Indeed, I’m told that MPs are pondering a means to ensure their will is done over the head of the prime minister: one senior opposition figure has a bill ready that would mandate the Speaker, John Bercow, to apply to Brussels himself for that extension on behalf of the British parliament.

There’s a deep paradox here. It was the champions of Brexit who back in 2016 posed as the defenders of parliamentary sovereignty, determined to reassert the supremacy and independence of the Commons from the supposed encroachments of Brussels. Yet here they are now, fighting parliament at every turn: first proroguing, or suspending, parliament for five weeks; then expelling MPs from their party, even those with decades of devoted service; now seeking to defy parliament’s will. It’s quite a reverse, one captured well by that photograph of the leader of the house, Jacob Rees-Mogg, stretching out contemptuously on the Commons front bench.

“Boris Johnson’s electoral gamble risks wrecking the Tory party”, Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian