• Brexit - Some Progress But Not Enough - We Need An Election

    The Moorlander
    28 October 2019

    24 hours is a long time in politics and so writing my column several days before it is published renders it out of date by the time it is being read. This is often the case with Brexit but I shall try anyway.

    Our PM has just cleared the first hurdle of getting his Brexit Bill passed by Parliament but then lost the next vote, which would have set in motion a timetable to get the bill through the Commons by October 31st. Having voted in favour of both the bill and the timetable, I found the results of the votes bitter sweet. 

    The Bill: the significance of the Prime Minister’s new Brexit Bill being passed by Parliament by 30 votes should not be underestimated. Nearly three and a half years has passed since the referendum and this is the first time there has been a majority in Parliament for a deal, and it turned out to be a larger majority than had been expected. There have been plenty of majorities opposing various options, but finally we have a positive majority in favour of a solution that will deliver on the referendum result and be good for the UK economy.

    The timetable: the fact that the proposed timetable was blocked will almost certainly result in us not leaving the EU on 31st October. This is the second time the Prime Minister has had his hands tied in this endeavour – the first instance being the Benn Act which required the PM to seek an extension of Article 50 from the EU. 

    While the next step is unclear (we do not know if the EU will grant an extension and, if they will, how long this would be for or what conditions they would impose) the optimist in me does believe that we are further down the road than we were this time last week. The fact that there is a majority in the Commons for the PM’s new deal shows that there is a way forward and the sooner it passes through the House the better. The best way to secure that of course is through a general election that results in a new government with a majority and a fresh mandate from the people to get the job done.

    Last week I received the great honour of being elected as Chair of the Treasury Select Committee. The committee holds government and the Treasury to account. I was elected by MPs right across the house. Getting on for half had me as their first choice - a solid result. I immediately sprang into action in the Commons and called on Barclays to relent in their plan to withdraw their over-the-counter cash service within local post offices. It would be foolish to suggest that this alone caused the bank to U turn but within hours they had reversed their decision.

    For more from Mel follow him on twitter @MelJStride or visit