I spent most of the past week in Parliament – the British one.
It so happened that before I ever entered the Maltese Parliament, I attended a sitting in the House of Commons, when John Major was prime minister. This week, as I watched the long and historic debate on Brexit in the House, I could note the differences between the Mother of Parliaments and our own.
Member after member stood up to say his or her piece. There were no interruptions, nor the ‘Point of Order, Mr Speaker’ which our debates seem to relish. Instead there was a custom I had never heard of: this was whenever a member interrupted a speech by asking the speaker to ‘Give way’ and invariably the speaker stopped and gave way to this member to have his say.
It was all done very courteously and with style. Members called each other not by name but by the name of the constituency as the Right Honourable Member for …..
And the Speaker sat throughout it all – he did not take breaks, nor was he substituted by someone else. As one member told him, he must have a bladder made of steel.
Now as to the substance of the debate. It seems very clear that Theresa May’s deal with the Commission will be thrown out on Tuesday. May’s government seems resigned to this, despite sending all ministers all over Britain at the weekend to explain the deal. It even tried to introduce amendments to the Deal but the House was not taking it.
The Deal pleases no one, not the Remainers for that is not what they wanted, nor the Brexiteers for they say it is a capitulation to the EU.
Member after member rose and said “I did not get into politics to see my constituents getting poorer”.
A particular stumbling block regarded the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland (Eire) and the possibility of a backstop being invoked which would see Northern Ireland come under the legislative power of the EU and the ECJ. Ideas such as establishing the frontier in mid-sea were discarded out o hand,
May has built her appeal on the premise that the Deal is better than no deal and that if the Deal is thrown out, chaos will ensue – trucks will collect at Dover and people will face long queues at airports. People are stockpiling as if a war is