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Proroguing Parliament

 

Jack Simpson looks at the Prime Minister's decision to suspend Parliament and what it means for North East business.

The Queen has approved the Prime Ministers request to suspend Parliament from 9th September, so that she can deliver the Queen’s speech in October. The Prime Minister claims this is to announce his “exciting agenda” to fund the NHS and tackle crime. However, with Brexit only 60 days away, the announcement has sparked a heated backlash.

Proroguing Parliament

Suspending Parliament, known as prorogation, occurs to mark the end of one Parliamentary session, and the opening of a new one. This suspension usually occurs annually, lasting a week or two, but the last one occurred back in June 2017, making this the longest sitting Parliamentary session. So, what’s the problem?

Well, it's all bout the context. Johnson has pinned his entire Prime Ministerial reign on leaving the EU on October 31st, deal or no deal. But Parliament has frustrated Government on Brexit, and with a slim majority of one, a few Government rebels from his side could scupper Johnson's Halloween deadline. By restricting Parliamentary time, there’s less chance for scrutiny on or frustration of Brexit.

Therefore, Johnson has proposed a month long prorogue to the Queen, from around 9th September to 14th October. Bear in mind Government will only be returning from summer recess on the 3rd September, this leaves around 17 sitting Parliamentary days before Brexit. Supporters say this is standard practice to announce a fresh agenda, which in normal times is true, but they are obviously ignoring the Brexit shaped elephant, that is looking more and more troublesome.

Unconstitutional? No. Undemocratic? Maybe. Stretching the rules as far they will go? Definitely.

Another theory suggests that Johnson is restricting the time to ramp up pressure on MPs, and then offer a choice between his deal and no deal. I’m not convinced by this suggestion, as it requires movement on the EU side, who next meet on October 18th, just over a week before Brexit.

Reality

A No Deal Brexit cannot be a credible outcome for the North East and its business community. We have written extensively on the seriousness of this issue, but the EU is the regions top trade market, and contributor to funds, research and security. A disorderly withdrawal will dislocate and disrupt the regional and national economy.

Three years later, this announcement changes little, we still have no exit agreement, no future framework but growing turbulence. In such a tight time frame, businesses that are seeking much needed clarity and support to prepare for the post-Brexit relationship (however that looks) will be forced to make serious decisions in preparation for a hard exit on October 31st.

This proroguing demonstrates that Government does not take the well voiced concerns of the business community seriously. It also does nothing for business confidence that senior leaders are making decisions without proper scrutiny and appear to be running down the clock in ideological pursuit of a No Deal outcome.

The Chamber will continue to campaign on behalf of members to avoid this disorderly outcome and to ensure their concerns are heard by decision makers at a regional and national level. We also aim to get businesses prepared for every eventuality, including the two resources below:
The Chamber Brexit checklist: https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/media/get/Business%20Brexit%20Checklist.pdf
Steps to get better prepared: https://www.neechamber.co.uk/preparing-for-brexit/brexit-knowledge-hub/five-steps-to-get-brexit-ready

If you have any Brexit related issues, or want to share your experience, please contact: brexit@neechamber.co.uk