NOT yesterday’s Queens Speech but the full splendour of a State Opening of Parliament
It was a long day yesterday, and it’ll be an even longer one today: the peacocks are back and, the Tory victory notwithstanding, the posing and screeching by the MPs just elected hasn’t changed one bit.
There was the Queen’s Speech and while the pomp was reduced – no horse and carriage, no state dress and jewelry, just a limousine ride and what passes as ordinary day dress for the Queen – the circumstances inside the House of Parliament remained the same as far as the summoning of the HoC to the HoL was concerned. What has changed was that the new Speaker, Sir Lindsay Doyle, wore the ceremonial robes with all that gold lace and a lace jabot – unlike the former speaker at the occasion of the Queen’s speech earlier this year.
Once the MPs had all trotted back from the HoL (gawd, the Commons are a noisy lot!) there was a break, and then, after the last stragglers were sworn in, the debate started at 2.30pm. This is the occasion where MPs can peacock to their heart’s content, and so they did.
As is now customary – as soon as Ian Blackford (SNP) stood up, MPs fled. It’s a pity because the SNP MPs keep sitting, providing a raucous ‘hear hear’ to whichever colleague is speaking, and by gawd, we were treated to a massive “Freedom for Sco’land” display yet again. It feels as if the HoC is populated exclusively by Scottish MPs. While they demand the right to be respected – Mr Blackford was outraged that the PM looked at his smartphone during his speech (here) – the SNP MPs made clear that they’ll disrespect us Leavers by voting against the Brexit Bill.
Listening to them and to the few Labour MPs who screeched, ahem: spoke, I thought they must live in a parallel universe where we barely exist, living in direst poverty (“more food banks that McDonalds!”, one Labour MP cried!), where Johnson and his government are rapaciously enriching themselves, tyrannising us poor peasants.
There are also articles which put the spotlight on some of the points made in that speech. I was intrigued to read an assessment in the DT which picked up on my suggestion yesterday, namely that the government aims to make legislation ‘Gina-Miller-proof’, just see the title: “Brexit Bill has been ‘Gina Miller-proofed’ says Government as formal Parliamentary process to leave EU gets underway”, where we read:
“The strengthened version of the [Brexit] Bill makes clear that the UK will leave the EU at 11pm on Friday January 31, rather than leaving open the possibility of quitting the trading bloc earlier than that date. It also makes it unlawful for any minister to stop the UK leaving on Jan 31 or extending the implementation period to after Dec 31 2020. MPs will also not be given a veto over an extension of the transition period – nor will they have to approve the future relationship treaty, despite the commitments existing in the last version of the legislation.” (paywalled link)
Another item, picked up by The Times, looks at a planned revision of the Treason Laws:
“Britain’s archaic treason laws could be updated to enable the prosecution of those who leak secrets to “hostile states”. The move comes amid concern about the activities of Russia and China in the West. The government announced in the Queen’s Speech that it was “considering the case” for updating Britain’s 650-year-old treason laws as part of a new espionage bill. Revising the Treason Act of 1351, which has not been used since 1945, would enable the government to prosecute anyone who participates in “harmful activity” with a foreign state.” (link, paywalled)
I wonder if that revised Bill will be used against those who are aiding and abetting Brussels in their aim to thwart Brexit. Perhaps it could be applied to Ms Sturgeon and the SNP, when we read that Brussels allegedly is talking to her, hinting that they will help the SNP to fast-track Sco’land’s entry into the EU should they get their IndyRef 2, breaking up the Union (here).
Another EU ‘grandee’ is reportedly threatening to get the EUParl to refuse their agreement to our Brexit Bill under which we’ll leave on the 31st of January. That is of course Mr Verhofstadt who has built up a lovely strawman about ‘EU citizens’ rights’ (here). We’ll see if his Fifth Column, the Libdems, will pick this point up in the Brexit Bill debates.
After the business statement by JRM there was an Adjournment Debate, put by Steve Baker MP. It was about electoral practices, cheating, postal votes – something which we’ve talked about many times indeed. You can read the whole debate here in Hansard – I’m stunned that they’ve already published it, the debate went on long into the late evening – it is well worth it! You can also read Mr Baker’s condensed version in this article.
It disgusted me to see that the opposition benches, i.e. Labour, SNP, Libdems and the rest – were totally empty, with the exception of one lone NI MP. They probably couldn’t bear to have the finger pointed – in an ever so careful, veiled way – at their practices. I do hope this adjournment debate will lead to legislation!
Here’s a final titbit. Don’t gloat! Willie Whitelaw famously said: ‘mustn’t gloat, gloating is bad, but we’re gloating like hell’ – but I certainly am gloating! It’s about Anna Soubry and her TIGs (here and here): she is disbanding that group. No bottom, no staying power, no will to work outside Parliament for what they allegedly stood for – that’s the TIGs: done, dusted and cooked.
Today, starting at 9.30am, we have the 2nd reading of the Brexit Bill. I shall watch so you don’t have to, even though I expect the usual suspects posturing and posing and screeching, trying my patience (and eardrums, in the case of the SNP) to the limit. We’ll see if the Tory RemainMPs will adhere to the Johnson diktat and speak as Leavers.