Traditionally this is a quiet time for Westminster watchers. Most MPs are on holiday, much of the press and media who cover us are also away, as of course are many of our constituents. Public services still run - a big thank you to those who stagger their holidays - and many businesses and especially farms are at full pelt.
But this is an unusual summer. The advent of what is to all intent and purpose a new Government in the last week of July has understandably junked the expected. I cannot fault my colleagues energy. From the NHS to crime and punishment, the Government is setting out its beliefs to offer the public more than a glimpse of what can be expected in a general election relatively soon. And there are many initiatives I know will have strong support. However there is no effective current majority in Parliament for anything highly contentious, which some Government policy must inevitably be. So at some stage, if paralysis continues, the public must decide where the country is going.
The most contentious issue of course remains Brexit, and here we are now in very deep waters. The Prime Ministers chief adviser is suggesting that even if the Government loses a confidence vote the Prime Minister, against all convention, could remain in place, and also that if any general election was to be held, having been triggered by Parliaments concern over a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the date of the election would be postponed until after October 31st. This would rule out any possibility of anything other than a ‘no deal’, whatever Parliament, on behalf of the people who elect MPs, decide to do.
I don’t support these positions, though I understand from some polling that many members of the public do, on the basis that they have just ‘had enough’ and ‘want MPs to get on with it’. I understand the frustrations - the delay in Parliament to leaving the EU has come from many quarters:- those who want a further Referendum, those who want to see more safeguards in any agreement from employment to citizens rights, and those who will never find any deal acceptable, and have always wanted to leave without one.
None of this should push us into the position of lightly abandoning our constitutional and democratic base for the sake of this one issue. Navigating a path for the country after Brexit will be hard enough, without having ripped up some valuable safeguards not just for now, but for generations to come.
There remains a way to avoid various pitfalls ahead, which is honestly to pursue a deal, and for Government and the EU to stop drawing so many red lines, but indicate where each might be prepared to compromise. I hope something is happening behind the scenes, because the megaphone diplomacy is worrying many people throughout the whole U.K. and continental Europe.
I look forward to continuing to receive your thoughts by email and correspondence, and expect to announce some “drop in” dates soon, specifically for businesses and also for members of the public, for those who want a more face to face discussion.
I have also recently written a press piece which you might be interested to read