Skip to Content

Coffee House

Sunday shows round-up: Boris’s Brexit plans critiqued

14 July 2019

4:52 PM

14 July 2019

4:52 PM

Gina Miller – Suspending Parliament ‘abuse of the PM’s powers’

Gina Miller, the lawyer who famously took the government to court over the question of whether it or Parliament had the right to trigger Article 50, has announced that she will be doing the same again if the new Prime Minister tries to prorogue Parliament in order to achieve a no deal Brexit. She told Sky’s Niall Paterson of the grounds for her case:

GM: We think it’s beyond the Prime Minister’s powers, because parliamentary sovereignty is actually the jewel in the constitutional crown. And we feel, from the advice and the case law we’ve looked at, that… it would be an abuse of his powers… to limit the voice of the representatives that we all elect.

We are ‘actively defending’ parliamentary sovereignty

Miller continued by saying that it was not enough to have faith in the government to protect the UK’s constitutional rights:

GM: Paying lip service to parliamentary democracy is one thing, but you actually have to actively defend it. And that’s what this case… would be doing – actively defending parliamentary sovereignty, because it is the cornerstone of our constitution… Whatever your position, I would argue that no one is above the law.
We ‘have not made this about Brexit’

Miller argued that, although she remained implacably opposed to Brexit, her personal views were not relevant:

GM: I have never been a fan of Brexit. I think any form of Brexit would diminish us as a country. But that is completely… different from defending the central pillar of our constitution. That is about the black and white letter of the law… We have not made this about Brexit.

Priti Patel – Movement to delay Brexit ‘relentless’

The Witham MP Priti Patel fired back at Miller’s prospective lawsuit and argued that Brexit was a policy that still – at least theoretically – had Parliament’s support:

PP: There seems to be this absolutely relentless movement to delay Brexit… and of course question the integrity of a… future government in its renewed determination to exit the European Union and do something that elected politicians like myself have said that we want to do.

Boris doesn’t need to make resignation commitment

Patel, who is an enthusiastic backer of Boris Johnson, also said that Johnson did not need to commit to resigning if he did not deliver Brexit by October 31st, because there was no question of this not happening:

NP: Why would he not make that commitment to step down if he didn’t do that?

PP: Well quite frankly I don’t think he needs to make any commitment on that nature whatsoever because he is absolutely focused on making sure that we deliver, he delivers as Prime Minister… Delay is defeat, it’s as simple as that.

Mike Cherry – We ‘need to get on with this’

The Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses told Paterson that, with a no deal Brexit looking ever more possible, the most important thing the government could do would be to make sure that businesses were adequately prepared:

MC: We need to just get on with this… Business just wants to know what it has to do, and if it is a no deal scenario we need government to actually make sure that it is ready itself, and to be able to inform business what it has to do to comply – whether it be tariffs, whether it be customs clearance or other issues.

Margaret Hodge – Labour’s Panorama response ‘utterly deplorable’

On Wednesday, an edition of the BBC’s Panorama programme investigated complaints about continued anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Several Jewish members of the party went on the record giving their account of how the party’s machine has badly mishandled the issue. Labour has threatened legal action against the participants. Margaret Hodge told Paterson of her outrage at this proposal:

MH: There seems to be a dogged determination not to listen… These are young, committed, idealistic Labour party activists… and they have been crushed by what has happened… It was utterly deplorable and a complete abuse of power for the leadership… to pursue these people with lawyers and trying to shut them up.
Corbyn is still an anti-Semite.

Hodge was thrown into the limelight last year when she called her leader Jeremy Corbyn a ‘racist and anti-Semite’. She said that she feared that nothing had changed almost a year on from that day:

NP: Do you stand by that?

MH: Well, to be honest, I’ve seen nothing in the past year that has caused me to change my mind, both in the incidents of anti-Semitism that have emerged, and in the further details we have of Jeremy Corbyn himself, the sort of people he’s met… I do think we are at a tipping point.

Emily Thornberry – We shouldn’t go ‘for the messenger’ on anti-Semitism

Andrew Marr spoke to the Shadow Foreign Secretary about Panorama’s findings and Labour’s response to them. Jeremy Corbyn has criticised the programme for containing ‘many, many inaccuracies’, and the party has attacked the contributors to the programme for having ‘personal and political axes to grind’. Thornberry suggested that the party should exercise a less hostile approach:

AM: Do you regard them as credible witnesses?

ET: I think that we shouldn’t be going for the messengers, we should be looking at the message. I think that is what is important… I can understand that the Labour party has concerns… but I don’t pretend that [our complaints processes] are perfect, because they’re not.

‘It is completely inappropriate to personalise this’

The conversation turned to Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who has been public in his criticism of how the party has been handling anti-Semitism, claiming that only ‘sunlight’ could disinfect it. Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby has hit back, calling Watson ‘irresponsible’ for ‘exacerbating’ concerns in the Jewish community:

ET: I wish he wasn’t attacking somebody who is going through chemotherapy. I think that is a mistake… I think it’s completely inappropriate to personalise this.

AM: Len McCluskey called him an ‘effing disgrace’…

ET: I think that Len and Tom and Jennie have a great deal of history… I don’t care I’m afraid… I want us to sort this out.

Labour ‘sounds pretty Remain to me’

On Brexit, Thornberry muddied the waters on Labour’s Brexit policy a little further after it was clarified that her party would back Remain if faced with a referendum on a Conservative brokered deal, but not on a Labour one. Thornberry seemed to suggest that backing Remain in a referendum was also a strong possibility if Labour got into government before the Brexit deadline:

AM: Is Labour a Remain party?
ET: …Sounds pretty Remain to me!
AM: …Ed Davey says… you’re going into the next election committed to a Labour Brexit.
ET: No we’re not…
AM: …So Labour will go into the next election with a referendum in its manifesto?
ET: I mean, I would have thought so.

Amber Rudd – No deal must ‘be part of the leverage’

The Work and Pensions Secretary, who has a long track record of opposition to a no deal Brexit, has told Andrew Marr that she would now accept that it must be included as an option in negotiations for an improved withdrawal deal:

AR: I still think that no deal would be bad for the economy, bad for security and bad for the union… But I have accepted that we now need to allow no deal to be part of the leverage to make sure that people compromise more.

End to benefit freeze is ‘essential’

The government has promised to end a freeze on increasing benefits and tax credits by April 2020. Marr asked Rudd if that would still happen in the event of no deal:

AR: I would expect that to happen whatever the situation, because it needs to happen… I would expect it to do so with any future government. It’s essential that we take that freeze off… It’s not for me to guarantee, but I will certainly… be making a very strong case for it.

Ed Davey – UK can be ‘best educated country within a decade’

And finally, Liberal Democrat leadership contender Sir Ed Davey laid out in brief the reasons that he should become his party’s next leader:

ED: I have the sharper vision – a plan to stop Brexit, but beyond that a vision when we stop Brexit. A vision to tackle inequality that caused the Leave vote in many respects… plus my proposals to tackle the climate emergency and invest in education so Britain becomes the best educated country in the world within a decade.

Show comments