SNP Tabling New Coup Bill

After next week’s PMQs, the SNP’s Pete Wishart is tabling a Ten Minute Rule Bill that would establish the position of an ‘Acting Prime Minister’ and require Cabinet appointments to be approved by MPs, further weakening the executive against Parliament. In Wishart’s own words it would:

“Make provision for the House of Commons to nominate the Prime Minister and approve appointments to the Cabinet; to establish the office of Acting Prime Minister; and for connected purposes.”

Traditionally Ten Minute Rule bills are more about posturing than policy, and rarely make it to law. Bercow however could delight in breaking another convention to make this matter more than it should…

Harman Pitches Herself as Continuity Bercow

The race to be the next speaker is formally on, with a number of candidates now openly campaigning. In truth many candidates have been quietly on the campaign trail for well over a year. Harriet Harman has the most sophisticated operation and the most support from the Labour benches. Another serious contender at this stage is Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle. Harman took to the airwaves on The Today Programme to declare that she agreed with Bercow’s flagrant disregard for precedent…

Guido brings you the runners and riders to be the next speaker in full here…

  • Harriet Harman (Lab)
    • The (self-described) ‘Mother of the House’. Pitching herself as ‘continuity Bercow.’ That will go down well with Remainers but is unlikely to pick up much Tory support…
  • Lindsay Hoyle (Lab)
    • Deputy Speaker. Good sense of humour with a decidedly smaller head than his would-be predecessor. Seen as less activist with a broader appeal across the House. But will this Remainer Parliament want someone less keen on breaking the rules for their own cause?
  • Chris Bryant (Lab)
    • Loves Parliamentary procedure so much he wrote a book on it. An also-ran.
  • Charles Walker (Con)
    • A close friend of Bercow and loyal Theresa May fan. May want to add ‘speaker’ to his title along with his KBE this morning.
  • Eleanor Laing (Con)
    • Seen as more cooperative in the eyes of Brexiteers…
  • Rosie Winterton (Lab)
    • Another Deputy Speaker and former Labour Chief Whip under Miliband.
  • Meg Hillier (Lab)
    • Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
  • Sir Henry Bellingham (Con)
    • Promised to bring back ceremonial outfits, including wifs for the clerks and speaker. Will go down well with traditional Tories…
  • Sir Edward Leigh (Con)
    • Certainly the Tory Brexiteer’s favourite… so a no-hoper if Bercow insists on this cohort of MPs voting in the next speaker.
  • Pete Wishart (SNP)
    • Clearly doesn’t think Scottish independence is likely any time soon…

Expect backroom dealings and grovelling campaigning over the next two months…

UPDATE: After putting his name about, Pete Wishart has sheepishly pulled out

UPDATE II: Election for the next speaker announced for 4th November

UPDATE III: Shailesh Vara (Con) has emailed MPs announcing he is also running for speaker, promising to be impartial and to address “everyone in a respectful and fair manner“.

Brexiteers Dismissive of “Facile” No-Brexit Plots

Backbench MPs have spent the weekend busy plotting how to hijack the Brexit process with the help of flagrant constitutional abuses from Speaker John Bercow. Nick Boles has now tabled an amendment this morning which would effectively legislate for a putsch by the 36-member Liaison Committee of backbench Select Committee Chairs. It is heavily Remain-dominated and chaired by Sarah Wollaston…

Wollaston herself and the Committee’s Vice Chair Pete Wishart have already dismissed it as a “daft suggestion” that “appears to have been developed with just 2 other MPs” and “isn’t going to happen”. As Cumberbatch said in Channel 4’s Brexit drama last week, the golden rule of a successful coup is making sure the military is actually on board in advance…

Brexiteers are similarly dismissive, with one senior MP describing the plan as “facile” and ERG supporters pointing out three major obstacles to a backbench coup. Firstly, any government expenditure, which would be necessary to implement any plan, would require a money resolution, which only a Minister can move. Would Bercow dare to tear this rule up too?

Secondly, they say that any effect on Crown prerogative, i.e. the Government’s ability to act as the executive, would require the Queen’s consent at Third Reading of a Bill. Thirdly, even if Parliament did contrive a viable route towards stopping Brexit, under the Fixed-Term Parliament Acts the Prime Minister still retains the power to prorogue Parliament, ending the current Parliamentary session and voiding any legislation in progress, thereby forcing no deal by default. This would be a nuclear option but the power to stop ‘no Brexit’ still remains in May’s hands…

SNP MP Swerves Questions About Own Party’s Spending

Pete Wishart is the SNP MP who wrote to the Met demanding a full investigation into Tory election fraud. Yet Pete had no answer when the Daily Politics asked him about Guido’s story on the Nats’ own spending:

Jo Coburn: “It’s been alleged that Nicola Sturgeon’s helicopter tour at the last election included some local campaigning. Are you confident that the cost of that helicopter was all properly declared?”

Wishart: “Listen, we want national leaders to go to constituencies…” 

JoCo: “Yeah but that wasn’t my question. Are you confident it was properly declared?”

Wishart: “There’s always what about if-ery and all this sort of stuff…”

The Nats insist the helicopter was rightly declared as national spend, but the Electoral Commission say that if it was used for any local campaigning – as it was – the cost should be divvied up. The MP who called the cops on the Tories has no answer…

Submarine Warfare on Commons Corridors

Labour moderate John Woodcock is having a good go at defending Trident renewal in the House this afternoon. This was the imaginative leaflet Woodcock had hung on MPs’ doorknobs in parliament this morning:

Yet one anti-Trident parliamentarian is not going down without a fight. This was found on SNP MP Pete Wishart’s door today:

A severe escalation of hostilities, or just sub-par?

H/T @claire_pearsall

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