By Cllr Jack Hopkins, Leader, London Borough of Lambeth

At the end of August, the Prime Minister gained permission from the Queen to prorogue Parliament from between 9-12 September until 14 October. This means that Parliament will be suspended for a whole month, and will only sit again for a mere two weeks before 31st October, the day that we are due to leave the European Union. This is the momentous moment for our country and to not have parliamentary scrutiny is an act of cowardice at best, a dangerous drift away from a democracy at worst.

Since Boris Johnson secured the prorogation of parliament, I’m proud to say that 1000s of Lambeth residents have joined over a million people in signing a petition calling for Parliament to not be prorogued. Many Lambeth residents have also joined protests in Westminster and across London to demonstrate against the government’s decision to suspend Parliament. We in Lambeth Labour are clear: This affront to democracy cannot stand.

Boris Johnson formed a government on the basis of being able to command a majority in the House of Commons, he knows that this is impossible and that there is no majority for a Tory no-deal Brexit – which would be a disaster for our country. So what has he decided to do? He has launched an executive coup, completely subverting the power of our elected MPs. It turns out that ‘taking back control’ was not so much to do with the sovereignty of the British Parliament, and more to do with Boris Johnson’s lust for executive power.

Since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, Lambeth Labour councillors have been holding his administration to account on his promises and those of his predecessor. I wrote to Boris Johnson on his first day in office, urging him to truly put an end to austerity and to restore funding for councils which have been decimated over the last 10 years. Councillors sent postcards to the Chancellor to call for an immediate injection of funding to deal with the nationwide crisis in social care, as part of our Breaking Point campaign. Our Deputy Leader, Councillor Claire Holland, wrote to the new Home Secretary expressing our extreme concern at the plan to curb the rights of EU citizens by ending freedom of movement on 31st October in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

We know that a Tory No Deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the country, and would have a hugely negative impact on the people living in Lambeth. It is our duty as elected representatives to protect our constituents from the disaster of a no-deal Brexit and that is why we passed a motion at full council calling for a People’s Vote, where Remain must be an option on the ballot paper. Lambeth voted 78.6% to Remain, the highest remain vote of any Borough in London. It is our responsibility to continue to fight for their opportunity to have their say on the final terms or to cancel Brexit altogether if that is their wish expressed in a second referendum.

We may well be facing a general election in October, November, or even sooner, and it is more vital than ever that we get a Labour Government which can govern this country for the many and not the few. We have a crisis in Local Government, the Tories will be withdrawing funding from schools in deprived areas, a Police force demoralised and becoming ever thinner, a creaking NHS and the bonds of society being undermined through deliberate acts of sabotage by this Tory Government. Only Labour will deliver a people’s vote, with remain on the ballot, and a government that truly works for all the people living here in Lambeth.

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