Government in contempt of Parliament and the People


Brexit has, at times, felt like a very long, complex yet boring Netflix series. So it comes with little surprise that as we approach the series finale, the government’s history of bad decisions and contempt of democratic principle would reach a dramatic zenith. The government – specifically two cabinet ministers – are likely to be found in contempt of parliament; a historic moment in the history of our parliament. 

The reason for this is because of the government’s decision not to publish to MPs the legal advice given to the government over the Brexit withdrawal agreement, despite a motion in the House of Commons commanding the publication passing unanimously.

Whilst this is an unprecedented moment for Parliament, it follows a clear pattern of this Conservative Brexit government treating the role of Parliament with contempt, seeking to undermine and overcome the duties of our Parliament and the role of MPs in holding the government to account.

This government, don’t forget, had to be taken to the Supreme Court just to allow Parliament to do its duty in passing Article 50. Since then, the government has sought to ignore Parliament. Whether it’s been withholding strategic information, intimidating the Lords, misleading MPs, fighting against MPs having a meaningful vote or refusing to involve other parties in the Brexit process, this government has spent energy and political capital working to subvert Parliament rather than work with it.

Brexit, we've been told, is about sovereignty. Brexiteers have spent years telling us that our Parliament will ‘take back control’, but this government clearly doesn’t believe that. If Brexit were truly about sovereignty it’s government wouldn’t hold the role of Parliament with such disdain.

This, somehow pales in comparison with how the government has treated the people through this process. To demand a time of departisanisation, asking politicians to work together in the national interest, before calling a snap general election for party gain shows this government holds even its own people in the lowest possible regard.

Now, the future of this country is in the control of a handful of politicians as the Prime Minister goes on her version of a charm offensive. An election debate with neither an election called or much of a debate being forced on the nation is not only pointless but patronising. The Prime Minister wants us to have second best, not respecting the real will of the people to demand better than Brexit.

When it comes to Brexit, this Conservative government has been paranoid, partisan and pathetic. Liberal Democrats demand better.

It’s time to give the people – not the government, the backbenchers or the opposition – the final say on Brexit. The government is clearly unable to command the confidence of the House, its Brexit deal will stall and our democracy will ground to a halt. The Prime Minister’s government will likely be found in contempt of Parliament – if she doesn’t call a People’s Vote now, she will be in contempt of the people.

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