By Kira Taylor |
The beginning of September was rather tumultuous in Westminster. So much that it’s hard to believe Parliament was only back a week before it was prorogued. It was a week that Truro and Falmouth’s MP Sarah Newton says will “badly” affect the Conservative Party.
Boris Johnson lost his majority on Tuesday when Philip Lee crossed the Chamber during Johnson’s speech, joining the Liberal Democrats.
Later that day a majority of MPs, including rebel Tories, voted to seize control of Parliamentary business. Johnson followed through on his vow to expel rebellious Conservative MPs and long-standing members of the Conservative Party had the whip removed.
This includes Philip Hammond, who was Chancellor during Newton’s time in government.
… even if all 21 of those who were expelled were welcomed back, Johnson would still be short of a majority.
Newton said: “While I understand that the PM and Chief Whip have the right to [expel MPs], I am very sad that the whip was removed from many hardworking and effective colleagues and am working hard to get it back.”
Yesterday Philip Hammond announced he was appealing to be reinstated to the Party, but even if all 21 of those who were expelled were welcomed back, Johnson would still be short of a majority.
Johnson lost six votes in six days and is yet to win a vote in Parliament. He is working with a minority government, which makes an already difficult task even harder.
“The Prime Minister and his team are in the midst of negotiations with the EU on an ‘amended deal’…”
Having seized control of Parliament, MPs rushed through a bill to make a no deal Brexit illegal. Sarah Newton was predicted to support the rebellion, but voted with the government.
Newton is now part of “MPs for a Deal”. She resigned in March as a Minister “in order to vote to prevent a ‘no deal’ Brexit”. One reason why Newton voted to keep ‘no deal’ on the table is Johnson’s assurances to MPs that he is working to secure an amended deal with the EU.
In an online statement, published on the morning of the vote to seize control, Newton said: “The Prime Minister and his team are in the midst of negotiations with the EU on an ‘amended deal’ so that we can leave the EU at the end of the deadline of 31st October.
“I am encouraged by comments made by European leaders and by their preparedness to make some concessions to the so-called ‘Irish Backstop’ that is the sticking point preventing some MPs from supporting the EU Withdrawal Agreement.”
Asked how likely it is Johnson will secure a deal, she said: “I think that there is a good chance that he will be able to achieve some changes that some Parliamentarians have asked for before they can agree to it. The issue is will Parliament support this ‘amended deal’.”
It’s unlikely any deal will succeed if it contains that dreaded backstop and the EU says it is yet to be presented with an acceptable replacement.
Another blow to Johnson’s premiership came as the Scottish Court of Session ruled his prorogation of Parliament “unlawful”.
Asked whether she agreed with the Scottish Court, Newton said: “I am not a lawyer. I have full confidence in our independent judiciary.”
The case will go before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, taking British politics to a new battleground. It’s rare the judiciary become involved in politics – which is one of the reasons the English High Courtoriginally allowed the prorogation.
… ‘no deal’ Brexit could negatively impact healthcare, something which is already under considerable strain in Cornwall.
The final momentous event of last week was the release of the Operation Yellowhammer document. This contains the government’s worst-case planning for a no deal.
One of the things Yellowhammer identifies is that a no deal Brexit could negatively impact healthcare, something which is already under considerable strain in Cornwall.
Asked how these could be mitigated, Newton replied: “I have raised my concerns with the NHS locally and nationally and have been assured steps are being taken to ensure people can continue to access health services and obtain their medicine.”
Parliament is due to open again on the 14th October. The next vote – on the Queen’s Speech – will be a test of how easily Boris Johnson’s skeleton crew can steer through the Brexit storm.