The independent London newspaper

Insights from the public gallery

04 October, 2019

Houses of Parliament

• FOR the sake of my sanity, and tired of media spins, I queued to witness in full the resumption of parliament from the public gallery of the House of Commons.

The gallery was thoroughly entertained by PM Boris Johnson’s dramatics and rhetorical ability. Here he was, “dragged” into parliament by the most senior judges and performing to a single tune: I dare the lot of you, elections now. He thrived on recurring questions to “say sorry” or to “resign”.

He japed, he incited. Then dropped his voice to a soft, comforting purr advising the opposition, “Listen, listen; Mr Speaker, I think they should listen.”

The gallery laughed in disbelief. He followed this by a defiant, “Come on! Come on then! Let’s have a vote!” His backbench supporters echoed the challenge.

However, behind its glass partition, the public gallery applauded in approval just once. That was when an exasperated Paula Sherriff (Labour) pointed out that the PM’s words, “surrender act, betrayal, traitor”, put in danger MPs who do their job.

As a Camdenite, it might have been interesting to hear our MP, the former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer, tackle the PM. But he remained still and silent as a pike amid the algae green of the animated Commons benches.

Finally, it was alarming that only one MP (Sandy Martin) hinted at the huge backlog of legislation generated by the government’s apparent policy to enter a no-deal Brexit, in spite of parliament’s wishes. Democracy smouldered while Nero fiddled.

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