Johnson's dangerous game
Our executive is answerable to parliament. That is how our system works. We meddle with it at our peril. Boris Johnson has stepped over a line by preventing Parliament from holding him to account, while his government make momentous decisions that will affect all our lives for decades. Boris is not a President, and we are not a Republic. This is why behaving like Trump is unsuitable for our system. Boris is not a President. He is not a head of state. No MP and no Prime Minister should be above the laws made by parliament. Looking for technical dodges to circumvent the will of parliament disrespects our constitution. Whatever our views on Brexit are, we must not allow them to destroy the legislative principles so many have fought for in the past.
The United Kingdom has been plunged into a constitutional crisis. A minority government with no mandate to govern, propped up by the DUP, has effectively stymied debate. Proroguing parliament for no other reason than preventing it from holding his government to account is a travesty of the conventions of our unwritten constitution. Sadly, the country is so divided on Brexit that it colours our reaction to this travesty.
Views divide on Leave vs Brexit sides. That is dangerous. It is like saying, as long as I agree with the policies pursued by the government then they can ride roughshod over our constitution. One day we will awake to find that the very parliament we need is gone. The government can no longer be held to account.
When we see governments abroad suspending parliaments our government, of whatever hue, usually condemns it. Yet, effectively that is what this government has done. It has suspended parliament and prevented it doing its job of scrutiny. For a few weeks, the government has taken all power. MPs have had to wrestle information from the executive about the consequences of leaving with no-deal. Information the government sought to deny the people's right to know.
The United Kingdom has an unwritten constitution and largely it runs on conventions and Acts of Parliament. Crucially Parliament can only work by cooperation on the agenda, with the government and opposition ensuring time is made available for scrutiny and debate. There is no single Act of Parliament that specifies the role of Prime Minister. A Prime Minister does not have a personal mandate over and above that of the political parties or Parliament.
The Prime Minister is playing a very dangerous game when he seeks to set 'the people' against their elected representatives, and also against the judiciary when it seeks to uphold the rule of law and the sovereignty of parliament. It also sets people against people, and it brooks no compromise let alone disagreement. It sets those who disagree as 'the enemy of the people'. It is the stuff of Stalin and Hitler, not of our parliamentary democracy.
We are heading for a general election. The likely outcome is another hung parliament. Political parties are jockeying for position. Already they are setting out their red lines on who they would or would not do a deal with. Thus, the LibDems say they would never do a deal with Labour. They set themselves up as the 'pure' remain party with a likely commitment to revoke article 50 and stop Brexit. Alas, this solves no problem. The LibDems are unlikely to be in a position to enforce such legislation. It is yet another divisive statement digging us further into our trenches. No doubt, voters will be once again bewildered by the inability of MPs across the parties, unable to agree and unable to find a compromise.