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This week could be the worst for democracy for some time.

September 11, 2017 8:31 PM
By Alistair Carmichael MP
Originally published by South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

Alistair Carmichael (Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)This bill does more than start to implement the Brexit vote, it gives power to Theresa May to by-pass parliament.

"Government power grab". "Affront to democracy" "Constitutional Outrage".

The stuff of headlines and, more often than not, a little overblown.

Not this week. This week could be the worst for parliamentary democracy for some time. It all starts tonight.

Tonight my parliamentary colleagues and I shall be sitting until midnight to conclude the debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. By the time we have traipsed through the voting lobbies three or four times it will probably be past 1am before I head off to bed.

Why the fuss?

The fuss is that this bill does more than start to implement the Brexit vote - something which many of you will think is bad enough in itself! More than that it gives power to Theresa May and her minority Conservative Government to by-pass parliament and the tiresome business of having to persuade MPs and to win votes.

This Bill gives the Government the power to make by order "any provision that could be made by an Act of Parliament." It is a few short steps removed from rule by decree.

Remember all the talk in June of last year about putting our parliament in control of our laws?

Remember all the talk in June of this year about the Conservatives governing inclusively and with humility?

Turns out that it was exactly that - talk.

The deeds have been very different.

After burning the midnight oil tonight we shall be back again tomorrow, this time to debate a proposal which is, if anything, even worse.

One of the rules of parliamentary procedure is that committees set up to examine proposed legislation should mirror the composition of the Commons as a whole. If the government has a majority in the commons then they will have the majority in committees. The bigger the majority in the house, the bigger the majority in the committees.

Tomorrow night the government want to change all that and to pretend that the general election never happened. They want to change the rules to give themselves a majority on all Commons Committees.

What it tells me is that Theresa May and the Conservatives are determined to continue to do what landed our country in this mess in the first place. They will try to continue to manage our country's relationship with the rest of Europe not in a way that best reflects our national interest but rather in a way that promotes the best interests of the Conservative Party."

Earlier this year, when introducing a bill to require a referendum on the deal the Government secures, Tim Farron said, "What started with democracy cannot end now with a stitch-up. The deal must not be merely rubber-stamped by politicians it must be agreed by the people."

Well, the stitch-up is worse than any of us feared. The people will have no say, and even MPs are being carved out of the picture.

As I write this I do not know if they will get their way or not but I am determined that they will not get it without a fight.

Our constitution may not be a written one but it is real and it is precious and if Mrs May wants to trash it for her own party advantage then she will not get off without a fight.

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