Opinion’ Craig Mackinlay MP: Conference recess is cut short

Craig Mackinlay

The usual Conference season recess of three and a bit weeks was brought to an abrupt halt  following the Supreme Court judgement that the prorogation of Parliament was unlawful. Prorogation and recess are of course different beasts, but whichever way one might cut it, it is entirely usual that Parliament does not sit from the end of the second week in September returning on the second week in October.

It has done this for 80 years for conference season. It is also quite normal for a further period for a Queen’s Speech to be prepared. Call it prorogation or recess plus, it amounts to much the same. I won’t try to explain the deficiencies of the decision of the 11 Supreme Court Justices in this brief article, but this goes to the heart of our constitutional arrangements. For those who are pleased that Boris Johnson’s new government has been given a bloody nose, allowing judicial intervention into political decisions is truly dangerous ground that will never end well.

Governments of either flavour should have the right to exercise executive powers: it is then up to the electorate to weigh up those decisions taken at election time. From a legal point of view it was interesting that the reference legislation cited in the judgement was the Bill of Rights of 1689; amazing how truly historic legislation echoes through the ages.

The truly bizarre aspect of this labyrinth laid out is that the opposition can, at any time, call for a vote of no confidence in the government, or support a move for a general election. They have chosen neither and we remain in deadlock with a zombie Parliament incapable of deciding on anything. We returned to Westminster last week for two days of non-debate, listening to the same words from the same people that we’ve been hearing for the last 3 years as the tone hit fever pitch in their attempts to stop Brexit.

To add to the truly spiteful and vindictive nature of the current political scene, the opposition parties, who had already enjoyed their own planned annual conferences, have denied my Party the same normal annual event. Myself and colleagues remain stuck at Westminster in case of more on-the-hoof shenanigans.

The most uplifting event recently was being able to address a full house of constituents at St Peter’s Church hall, Broadstairs with the subject of Brexit. This follows a similar event some weeks ago in Sandwich. The message from residents was clear – ‘please just get on with it’. I couldn’t agree more. The contrast between our desire to deliver on the referendum and get on with the normal functioning of government promoting policies that matter to the lives of the electorate and the obstructive behaviour of others couldn’t be more stark.