Suspending Parliament Takes Away Your Right To Vote – What Prorogue Means

What even is a prorogue? What happens when Parliament is suspended? How does any of this affect me?

It’s simpler than you might think.

When you vote during a General Election, you’re not really voting for a party, you’re voting for a Member of Parliament (MP) to represent you.

Your MP may belong to a party, and that might be why you voted for them. But the reality is that your MP has their own mind and will to vote on issues as they see fit.

Your MP joins hundreds of other MPs in casting votes on which laws are made. Every law we live by today, from environmental protections to dealing with organised crime, has been decided by MPs in Parliament.

Theoretically, the party currently in government will have the most MPs. However, if that party is not behaving itself, its MPs may “rebel”, and vote against the Government on key matters.

In this way, Parliament is what limits the Government, and what prevents it from doing things that are clearly immoral and damaging to the country.

Or at least it should be.

On September 9th, Prime Minister Johnson will be “proroguing” Parliament. This is another word for “suspending”, or “shutting down”. What it means is that, from September 9th through to October 15th, Parliament will be unable to create any new laws, debate any topics, or act in any way.

This is not normal.

Parliament is occasionally prorogued, or suspended, in this manner, but usually only for a few days. Johnson’s current plan is to shut Parliament down for 37 days – more than a month.

What’s more, is that even after October 15th, there will still be a few days where Parliament is unable to vote on new laws, as they will be debating the Queen’s Speech – the agenda which lays out Government priorities. This means, in reality, Parliament will not be back to its normal functionality until the 21st or 22nd of October, so the shutdown will really last for closer to 43 or 44 days.

This is not normal.

Another term you will hear is “precedent.” This simply means that, in British law, and in Parliament, things that have happened before are more likely to happen again.

When Prime Minister Johnson shuts down Parliament for this long, he will be setting the precedent for it to happen again. He will be making it easier for himself, and future Prime Ministers, to shut down Parliament when it is politically convenient for him to do so.

Prime Minister Johnson wants to prevent Parliament from creating laws which block his political agenda. Because he knows enough of his own party’s MPs will rebel and vote against him, he is therefore shutting down Parliament before they have the chance to challenge him.

If he is allowed to do it this time, he will do it again.

In the big picture, what this does is take away Parliament’s power. By proroguing, or suspending, Parliament, Johnson is removing any power MPs have to challenge the Government in any way. And he is making it easier to repeat this trick in the future.

If your MP cannot vote on laws, and cannot challenge the government, then your vote in a General Election is effectively meaningless. You may draw a cross in a box on a sheet of paper, but it will carry no more meaning or power than an online petition, or even a Twitter poll.

You have a right to vote. Your grandparents fought for this right during the Second World War. Great Britain fought a war to preserve your right to a vote. Your right to a democracy.

Now, Prime Minister Johnson is trying to take that vote away, and break down the democratic process.

But you can help to stop this from happening!

Talk to your friends and your colleagues. Bring up the fact that your right to vote is being taken from you, in a very sneaky way. You might still vote, but the power and meaning of that vote will be completely gone.

You can also write to your MP and urge them to take immediate action via the website below – but you need to be quick about it, because very soon they might not be able to take action for you.

Finally, you can join protests and demonstrations. There will be protests all across the country over the next few weeks.

Protesting doesn’t mean getting arrested or causing a riot. It just means being present in a place with a lot of other people who feel the same way as you, and making your presence known. You can protest completely peacefully. You can join in chants, even lead chants, and you can make new friends. Most of all, you can feel powerful, because you really are making a difference.

You can find protest events near you on social media.

Britain is a great country, but only because of the people in it. And our rights will be taken away if we don’t have the courage to stand up for ourselves.

Britain’s Parliament has served as a model for other countries all around the world. Our legal system has inspired other nations’ legal systems. We are a powerful, influential country, but Britain is only as powerful as its people, and there are some very clever, very selfish people in Government right now who want to take away your power.

Don’t let them. Defend your democracy. Save your right to vote.


Three Facts

These are some facts I’m going to be repeating a lot over the next few days. Or weeks.

Or months.

I’m putting them here as a handy reference, both for myself and for anyone else who may find them useful.

1 – The Tories Talked About Suspending Parliament To Force Brexit Months Ago

The suspension of Parliament in September 2019 is not about ending the current session because it has “gone on for too long.”

Dominic Raab suggested suspending Parliament in order to force through Brexit in early June 2019:

The Tory leadership contender Dominic Raab has said the possibility of sidelining parliament to force through Brexit should not be ruled out, as to do so would weaken the UK’s negotiating position in Brussels.

“I think it’s wrong to rule out any tool to make sure that we leave by the end of October,” Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, as the Conservative party reels from its disastrous results in the European election, in which Eurosceptic voters flocked to the Brexit party.

Any claims that the suspension of Parliament serves any other purpose are untrue.

2 – A No-Deal Brexit Will Harm The NHS, Despite Johnson’s Pledges To Support The Health Service

Boris Johnson has pledged to support the NHS, but by forcing through a No-Deal Brexit and removing the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK, he is putting at risk 9.5% of the NHS’s doctors.

9.5% of doctors and 6.4% of nurses are EU nationals

Nationals of other EU countries make up 9.5% of doctors in England’s hospital and community health services. They also make up 6.4% of all nurses and 5.7% of scientific, therapeutic and technical staff. The percentage of doctors and nurses with EU nationality grew between 2009 and 2016. Since 2016, the percentage of EU nurses has fallen.

A No-Deal Brexit will make the already-understaffed NHS unsupportable, despite Johnson’s claims that he wishes to support it. As the NHS struggles more and more to provide adequate levels of service, it becomes easier to characterise it as being unfit for purpose.

3 – There Is Still Hope

I’m really tired. I wanted to spend my free time after work this week making plans for a new Improv show I’m putting together. I wanted to play Kerbal Space Program, and finally finish my massively complex mission to Duna. I wanted to finish Season 2 of ‘Mindhunter’ and whinge some more on Twitter about Rey’s flip-phone lightsaber in the new Star Wars trailer. I wanted to finish another couple of chapters of the trash sci-fi book I’m writing.

Instead, I’m writing letters to my MP. I’m sharing links to organised protest events on Reddit. I’m trying to get as many of my friends as possible onto a train down to London at the weekend. I’m trying to work out how I’m going to make a placard and what to put on it. I’m trying to figure out how I can do all this, and take part in a possible general strike, whilst also keeping the full-time job I need to maintain my vegan cheese addiction.

And I’m barely making 1% of the effort that other people have been making for months to try and end the horrible political mess we’re currently in.

There is still hope that we can stop Johnson’s government from abusing its power, deminishing our democracy and dragging us through a disastrous No-Deal Brexit. We might be able to make a difference.

But sadly, we’re going to have to put ourselves through hell for the next few weeks. We’re all going to have to spend a lot of our free time feeling miserable and tired and angry.

We’re going to have to learn the talking points, we’re going to have stand around for hours in a lot of protests, and we’re going to have to sacrifice a lot of our free time. We may have to make ourselves vulnerable to arrest, to attack from Brexiteers, to abuse and denigration.

We have to make our voices heard. We now have to affect the change that we want for ourselves. We have to support each other, and be strong for one another, and fight twice as hard for every person who is unable to join us.

We have to be resolute and fearless.

I will be at local Midlands protests over the next few days. I will be joining the Downing Street protest on Saturday. I will be doing whatever I can, whilst hopefully not losing my job or getting arrested, to defend our democracy and defeat the ambitions of a few wealthy men in London.

And if we succeed, I may do some of the stuff I actually wanted to do.