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Southend Labour Party organised a public protest in Victoria Plaza on the evening of Tuesday 3rd September. This was part of a series of protests, held in many towns and cities across the nation, against Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament and therefore deny MPs the democratic right to properly debate and vote on a Brexit deal before 31st October. This was not a protest against leaving the EU (or one to support leaving it) – it was a protest against a Prime Minister over-riding elected MPs right to vote.
Ian Gilbert, Leader of Southend Council said: “I think it sends out an extremely worrying, even frightening signal, when the Government thinks that they could just avoid parliamentary sovereignty and avoid scrutiny of their actions simply by proroguing parliament in this way.
“The length of time that parliament is being prorogued for is actually unprecedented since World War 2, and the only possible reason for them doing that is to avoid that scrutiny.
“It’s not something that we would ever get away with at a local level to avoid scrutiny, so it’s sending out completely the wrong message to people who care about the democratic process: that if you’re in danger of not getting your way, you can just change the rules of the game.”
Both of the local MPs, James Duddridge and Sir David Amess, have shown clear support for the Prime Minister’s approach. However, later on Tuesday evening, MPs from all sides of the House of Commons co-operated to take control of parliament in order to stop a damaging “no-deal” Brexit. Those demonstrating are pleased that at least some MPs have taken notice and that Boris Johnson suffered this significant defeat so the first stage has been completed to pass a law designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
Ashley Dalton, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Rochford & Southend East, said: “By attempting to shut down Parliament, Boris Johnson is attempting to avoid scrutiny of his Brexit plans. MPs must have the chance to properly debate the government’s plans and prevent a devastating no-deal Brexit.”
There have been some astonishing developments as the Brexit deadline approaches, and further protests may need to be organised. Nobody can anticipate exactly what will happen next, but the Labour Party is ready to fight a General Election whenever it is called.