Fascinating to briefly glimpse the innards of the House of Commons on Friday afternoon.
A big debate in progress, but check my scene from around 11:50am to see there's only a half a card deck's worth of workers in the place. Friday, so maybe like some other professions they'd already gone to the pub or were back at home instead of continuing the Brexit debate?
Also notice that the front benches are almost empty. The big cards are mainly missing. Come to think of it, so are the jokers.
I mean, six days should've been plenty of time. This Friday Sitting thing was an annoying extension in any case. Who needs to be in Parliament on a Friday? These procedural points grate.
And being Friday it is important to get through the business by 3pm. Or 2:30pm to hit the buffers for the main debate. Here's a few quotes from the largely unreported day's discussion by a mix of MPs across parties and opinions.
- "Probably the most important debate that the House of Commons will engage in in this generation."
- "I want a quality debate, and so do our constituents, so let us stick to the facts, not the fiction."
- (Speaker notes) "Let me say that there is quite a lot of chuntering from a sedentary position going on."
- "Hotel California" (lyrics argument).
- "We have been left with an angry country."
- "Seventy-seven days to go and breaking up is hard to do — disentangling ourselves from 45 years of arrangements that touch every aspect of our lives. This is bigger than any piece of legislation, any Budget and anything that any of us has ever voted on. It is a big deal. This is existential stuff."
- "We need a plan B to break this logjam, impasse, gridlock, deadlock, cul de sac."
- "Blackmail Brexit with guns held to our heads."
- "People have talked about improving the tone of debate, but we got to this position through betrayal, deceit and lies writ large on a bus, and through corruption and criminality that is still under investigation."
- "But the big problem — and it is a very big problem — is that we have barely a napkin sketch of where we are going."
- "Rather than setting us free and allowing us to take back control, this deal would tie the UK up in red tape, build a wall around the UK and take up the drawbridge. It fundamentally fails to take account of the reality in the world."
- "As the Chancellor said about the referendum, people “did not vote to become poorer”, but that is exactly what will happen if we vote for this deal."
- "Finally, it is a fundamental falsehood, deceit and insult to present no deal as the only outcome if the Government are defeated. It is not. For years people were told that they could not have the things that they need: a police service able to investigate and solve crime, a national health service that did not involve 20-week waits for standard appointments, and a solution to the housing crisis. The Government’s response was that there was no money and no deal. Now they find billions to waste on the no-deal Brexit, while people still suffer “neglexit” on housing, policing and the NHS. With this fundamentally fraudulent claim, the Prime Minister is playing Russian roulette with people’s livelihoods and jobs. The UK can and should revoke article 50, and I urge the Government to take that approach."