Are MPs ready to wield the powers Brexit has given them?
Defeating the British establishment by ensuring that the 2016 Brexit referendum was respected represented a heroic victory. But now that we have taken back power from Brussels, are our MPs ready to wield it?
Last week was the first week of a UK Parliament which had ‘Taken Back Control’. Along with such a noble idea comes the reality of a far greater level of scrutiny for our elected members of Parliament.
However, in the first major business of the week -- the debate over the NHS budget -- the chamber sat nearly empty for the majority of the day, only for droves of MPs to turn up and vote without even having heard the arguments.
This approach has become commonplace for years in the Houses of Commons, and while every member cannot be present for every minute of every debate it doesn’t give off the best impression when such an important issue as the NHS is being scrutinised by only a handful of MPs.
However, this all opens up a far bigger debate now that MPs can no longer hide behind, and blame, Brussels for the creation of the laws which govern our country. Are they actually ready to make legislation, and to endure the scrutiny which comes along with that responsibility?
In the past, many people in this country were not overly interested in the Parliamentary process. often seeing it as an irrelevance because of the rule-taking we have been subject to from Brussels. But now the eyes of the public will be far more focused on Westminster, and the job which their elected MPs are actually doing.
This increased role means the level of transparency within our political system must be increased, and MPs can expect more difficult questions about their voting records, and their attendance in Parliament. No constituent should be happy with MPs content to sit on their hands in the Commons, accepting their salaries without ever really making an impact.
MPs already have a big public perception problem, and those of them who have sat in the House of Commons for the last few decades have never really had to do their job properly. Many, especially backbenchers, have gotten comfortable, able to waltz around Parliament with relatively little responsibility. Now, their job will be of critical importance, with scrutiny of Government policy through committees playing a vital role in the legislation which governs every aspect of our lives. No longer will they be restricted by what we as a country are allowed to do by Brussels.
A cause for concern, but also an opportunity for future success are the hundreds of new MPs who were voted in at the last election. With such a significant turnover in representatives, the 2019-2024 Parliament is not as tied to the traditions of the past, with new faces bringing the possibility of refreshment.
Moreover, with many of these new MPs representing key gains for the Conservatives in areas they have never won before, real change will need to be seen if the Tories want to hold onto their majority. This drive for change may just be the catalyst for a new phase of UK law making which helps push us back to the forefront of the world.
However, the new reality of these fresh faces could also backfire on us. With no experience or political capital they could end up being placed under the heel of Government whips, afraid to drive forward and challenge the EU established status-quo which has dominated our Parliament for so long. Judging by what we have seen in Parliament so far, this, sadly, is the outcome we are expecting.
Fundamentally, now the decision taken on 23rd June 2016, to leave the EU and ‘Take Back Control’ has finally been implemented, there is a shock coming for MPs.
Now, they really will have to get down to the business of governing the country and representing their constituents on every issue under the sun.
Unfortunately, we at Get Britain Out are sceptical of the ability of our elected representatives to truly wield the power we have regained.
For too long MPs have had a comfortable life, able to blame Brussels for failings in legislation. That is a rut from which many will be unable to escape
Jayne Adye is the Director of the cross-party grassroots campaign Get Britain Out
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