Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

September News - Westminster

WM-Sept-19
Every month when I sit down to write this it amazes me how much has happened in such a short space of time. September was no different. We headed back after recess with one clear priority - to work with other parties to prevent a no-deal Brexit prior to Boris Johnson's planned shut down of parliament with a five week prorogation. One that turned out to be unlawful - but more on that later. 

The month began with what I described as a "turbulent few days". I recorded a series of videos on my social media channels as we progressed through that week. You can follow me on Facebook here and Twitter here. When events are happening quickly I often find that it's the quickest way for me to communicate with constituents. 

On the first day back (3rd Sept), an application was made for a Standing Order 24 debate to try and take control of the order paper. This was to allow the option of bringing forward emergency legislation to prevent the Prime Minister from taking the UK out of the EU without a deal. We managed to do that (the vote passed 318-301). I also spoke in the emergency debate - you can watch the video here

The following day, we were successful in bringing forward the European Union Withdrawal (No.6) Bill. The SNP supported the Bill and it passed its second reading 329-300. There were some amendments put forward at third reading but it ultimately passed that evening 327-299. It passed through the Lords and gained Royal Assent a few days later.

The Bill mandates the PM to try to get a deal at the EU Council on 17th October. He is required to report back to parliament by the 19th October either presenting a deal, or getting a vote for not having a deal, or having applied for a further extension of the process until 31st January 2020.

Boris Johnson responded by trying to call a general election. Under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, he needs a two thirds majority to do this. On the night, he didn't even manage a simple majority with the vote being 298 (for an election) to 56. Making it a very heavy week of defeats for the new PM. He tried again on the 10th September and again failed to get even a simple majority (293-46).

Some have asked why I, and other opposition MPs, haven't voted for an election. It's really quite simple - we don't trust Boris Johnson. I believe we need to have an election - but only once we've stopped a no-deal Brexit. I wrote a blog piece explaining my thoughts on an election in more detail which you can read here

Meanwhile, in news outside of Brexit (sort of), we also had Foreign Office questions during the first week back. And for once, I seemed to get a clear answer - watch here.

So parliament was suspended for five weeks. Or at least, that was the Prime Minister's plan. Before it was, I spoke in the Westminster Hall debate on the public petition about prorogation. You can watch my full speech here

But that wasn't to be the end of the story. On 11th September I ought to have been in parliament. Instead I headed to the Court of Session for the judgement on the cross-party legal action I was part of, led by Joanna Cherry QC MP, where it was ruled that the prorogation was unlawful.

The case then went to the UK Supreme Court, along with the case from England and Wales, for a final ruling. Last Tuesday, all 11 judges were unanimous in upholding the decision of the Scottish court. The prorogation was unlawful. Parliament returned the following day. Huge thanks to Joanna and the legal team who worked so hard on this.

The importance of parliament sitting isn't just about legislation. It's about us being able to ask questions and hold the UK government to account. On the first day back we had a statement on the Yellowhammer documents. Gove refused to say whether the UK government will follow the law of the land and apply for an extension if no Brexit deal is concluded next month - you can watch our exchange here.

Boris Johnson made a statement on the first evening back. Many who watched it were distressed by the language being used. When MPs are asking him directly to tone down the rhetoric because they, and their families, are receiving death threats and the Prime Minister responds to one by saying "humbug", you know things have gone too far. Yes, tensions are high, but there is no excuse for this whatsoever. All of us in politics have a duty to be careful in the language we use and, when we get it wrong, apologise. Something the PM is yet to do. 

There was a moment of light relief from Brexit during September - for a very serious cause. Earlier this month, I met with Breast Cancer Now at Westminster to support this year's #wearitpink campaign. Find out more and sign up here: wearitpink.org/mp


 

September News - Constituency
August News - Constituency
 

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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

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