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‘Gaukeward Squad’ kibosh Boris scheme to suspend Parliament

by Hugo Dixon | 18.07.2019

The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Lord Chancellor are among a large posse of Tory MPs to defy a three-line whip. They have scuppered the next prime minister’s undemocratic ruse to close Parliament if necessary to ram through a no-deal Brexit.

Philip Hammond and David Gauke abstained on a key amendment to Northern Ireland legislation today, designed to stop Boris Johnson “proroguing” Parliament. The man universally expected to become prime minister next week has threatened to do that if he can’t get a deal with the EU and can’t persuade MPs to crash out without one.

In total, 30 Tory MPs abstained – though some had permission to be absent. A further 17 voted in favour of the amendment. These include Margot James who resigned as a minister. The amendment passed by 315-274, a much bigger margin than expected.

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Hats off to the “Gaukeward Squad”. Sensible Tory MPs are finally discovering the courage of their convictions. When Johnson enters Downing Street, he will face a powerful phalanx. It won’t just be a few brave souls such as Dominic Grieve, who has fought Brexit insanity through thick and thin over the last two years. There will now be a strong and determined group of senior Conservatives prepared to stand up for the national interest.

Stopping the suspension of Parliament is just the first battle. The next will be to stop Johnson crashing out with no deal. That will require further parliamentary manoeuvres in the autumn. It may even be necessary for Tory MPs to vote against their own prime minister in a vote of no confidence.

If Johnson‘s government falls, sensible Tories may need to support some emergency national unity government. Alternatively, there may be an election. In that scenario, the Tory party is likely to move hard right and become effectively the Brexit Party. The Gaukeward Squad may then be expelled from their own party and have to stand as independent Conservatives. Hopefully, the Lib Dems and other pro-Europeans will not stand against them.

All this will take sustained guts and discipline. Today these brave MPs have made an excellent start.

Correction: the reference to 47 MPs defying the three-line whip was changed in the first para. This is because some of the 30 MPs who abstained had permission to do so. A reference was made to this in the third para.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

5 Responses to “‘Gaukeward Squad’ kibosh Boris scheme to suspend Parliament”

  • Is it possible, that like Terry Wogan & The ‘Oscars’ , They Announced the Wrong Winners of the Brexit Vote? – I Think So!
    Only a Very Few, much Less than 45%, of People are acknowledging that They voted to Leave the EU in September 2016!
    I am surprised that PM David Cameron did Not order a Recount?
    If He had the Result would have been 55% For Remaining IN the EU!

  • Tragic that its needed a motion from Parliament to protects its basic right to sit. What otherwise, is Parliament’s purpose? If it had allowed itself to be bypassed, we really would be on a slippery slope with maybe, the future of parliamentary democracy being on the line. Thank goodness at least, there is enough common sense amongst MPs to have blocked it.

    But even looking at it from the perspective of those hardline Brexiteers prepared to contemplate poroguing (nice technical word to hide behind!), can they not see that it would set a precedent for any subsequent PM? Maybe a PM with a far left agenda wanting to push through measures radically different to their own.

  • Alex Wilson, governments and their parliaments are essentially short term thinkers. What’s next up to the coming elections counts, any longer term preparations are too much trouble. Something that e.g. well nigh devastated my employer, the railways in this country, occasionally and presently prevents the Pfeffel Platoon to look beyond October this year.