I recently told you about Rory Stewart putting together a plan for some sort of alternative parliament in a meeting place opposite Westminster Palace. And now Philip Hammond has come up with his own similar proposals.
PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW:
I did a video on Monday about a cunning plan being formulated by Tory MP Rory Stewart, to put together an alternative parliament with its own Speaker in place just in case a new Prime Minister, probably Boris Johnson, tried to shut down Westminster by prorogation in order to stop MPs interfering with a no-deal Brexit.
Now Philip Hammond, the current Chancellor of the Exchequer has gone one better with his own plan.
And this involves taking a leaf out of the play books of the trades unions and students by staging a 'sit-in' to try and keep parliamentary business going, as well as keeping alive the chance of reversing Brexit.
According to the Huffington Post:
"Hammond has told colleagues that Commons Speaker John Bercow and Opposition MPs are likely to insist on carrying on their duties as normal even if the new prime minister attempts to ‘prorogue’ parliament."
And it also quotes a former minister saying that:
"Philip will be the leader of the rebel group once he gets sacked."
Because everyone expects Boris to give Hammond the old heave-ho once he's in Number Ten.
There is also talk that Philip Hammond is helping draft amendments where possible to prevent a no deal WTO Brexit.
Now, the term being used here is a 'contested prorogation'.
But as I pointed out in another video on Wednesday, when I talked about John Major's plotting, prorogation is part of the Royal Prerogative and would be exercised by the Queen herself. The Parliament website itself says:
"The Queen formally prorogues Parliament on the advice of the Privy Council."
And there is, as is usual with our parliament, a bit of a ceremony involved. And this consists of an announcement being made on behalf of the Queen in the House of Lords with the Speaker of the House of Commons and MPs attending.
The Speaker of the Commons would then read out the same statement in the House of Commons.
The parliament website says that "Prorogation brings to an end nearly all parliamentary business."
And all bills, unless agreed for carrying over to the next session, would fall and if questions to government are unanswered, they remain unanswered.
It would take a legal eagle to say exactly at what point the prorogation takes place. Is it when the monarch decides to do so, or when the statement is made in the Lords or after it has also been announced in the Commons?
Now, this all sounds straightforward, but it is a lengthy process. I've left a link in the descriptions box below to the last prorogation before the 2017 General Election, it's worth taking a gander.
The whole thing is televised and done on the world stage. Can you imagine watching Lords and MPs defying the Queen in real time?
And the questions here are:
Would those in the House of Lords really try and stop the prorogation ceremony?
And when the Lords send its Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod to summon the members of the Commons to attend the ceremony in the Lords, would they refuse to go?
Would the traditional and symbolic slamming of the door in the face of Black Rod before letting the House of Lords official in to summon them after he is forced to bang on the door, become just the slamming of the door in Black Rod's face?
Would Bercow refuse to make the prorogation statement in the Commons?
Then there is the Mace, which is the symbol of Royal power and must be present for parliament to both meet and make laws, that is carried into and out of the Commons chamber by the Serjeant at Arms at the start and end of every day the house is sitting. And is also carried out when the Commons goes to the Lords to prorogue parliament.
Would the Serjeant at Arms, who has custody of the Mace, go against the prorogation statement and leave it in the Commons or place the mace back in the Commons later in direct contravention of the prorogation, to try and give parliament legitimacy?
I can't believe that if it got to this stage that any of this would happen – but this is Brexit isn't it?
And any Lords or MPs trying to continue on after prorogations would, I think, be breaking their oath of allegiance?
So, I do have to wonder whether it would be anything more than a token sit-in.
But from the other end of the argument, it would be a massive call for Boris to make to prorogue parliament in order to ensure Brexit happened on time.
But, it might be one he is forced to make – if, and it's a big if, he is determined to make Brexit happen.