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Prorogation and Brexit - Liberal Democrats express outrage at gagging Parliament

September 5, 2019 4:07 PM

Cllrs Ferguson and Hall 2019We live in dark times. Our democracy is under threat, Cllr Colin Ferguson (seen here with his colleague Cllr Phil Hall) told Newcastle City Council last night. He went on : Our Government seems more interested in playing party political games and maneuvering for personal advantage than in attempting to heal the deep divisions cutting across society. The various figures at the top of the Tory Party seem pathologically obsessed with driving forward with Brexit, come hell or high water.

Against this backdrop, Boris Johnson is attempting to shut down Parliament, and shut down debate. Our unwritten constitution is being strained to breaking point.

This is the second time this chamber has come together cross-party to speak out with one voice, and I am delighted to second Councillor Forbes' timely motion.

Democracy functions not only through representation, but through fundamental values such as free speech, respect and the rule of law. Essential to a functioning democracy is allowing elected representatives the opportunity to debate, discuss and scrutinise, whether it be here in this chamber or in Westminster. Respect for dissenting voices and alternative points of view is not an optional extra.

I sincerely believe that any form of Brexit will harm the economy, and I think we can all agree that a No Deal Brexit will be devastating, not least for our region. I fear for the economy of our region, the jobs and livelihoods of so many in our communities in danger. But your position on the issue doesn't matter: this is as fundamental an issue as how our democracy functions.

We have a responsibility to come together in the national interest. We have a responsibility to speak with principle and conviction, to say that this is not the way a properly functioning democracy behaves. Equivocation is not an option, and politicians from across the spectrum MUST come together to fight this.

This matter should transcend party politics. Strange times call for novel alliances. I am pleased that Newcastle is leading by example by demonstrating a cross party objection to prorogation, a shameful move on the part of Boris Johnson, and his background schemer, Dominic Cummings.

Our country is bitterly divided. I agree wholeheartedly that our democracy is under threat. Therefore, We must reach out. It is incumbent on all of us to oppose the prorogation of parliament and to initiate a dialogue with our communities to begin to heal divisions and stand up for our democracy. The Brexit process has a long way to go, but that conversation must start now.