A wrecking ball to democracy

“Boris Johnson, Prime Minister in name only, has taken a wrecking ball to democracy.” Alexandra Phillips, Green MEP for the South East of England, explains how, although Johnson has undermined MPs and manipulated politics, the mess can be fixed.

An image of seven Green MEPs
An image of seven Green MEPs

Alex Phillips, Magid Magid, Catherine Rowett, Gina Dowding, Molly Scott Cato, Scott Ainslie and Ellie Chowns.
 

Alexandra Phillips

Parliament has just won the first step in wrangling power away from Boris Johnson – the weakest leader we have ever experienced – who has been taking a wrecking ball to British democracy.

Now that the dust is beginning to settle, we can all clearly see just how destructive his arrogance has been. Even the Tory members who voted for Boris didn’t vote to have our Parliament shut down. 

This ‘government’ seems hell-bent to do anything to push a no-deal Brexit through, whether it has the public – or Parliament’s – backing, or not. After last night’s vote, MPs have managed to put temporary breaks on Boris’ plans, but who knows how long the impasse may last.

We’ve got a bulldozer, bully of a prime minister in charge who has no qualms about blackmailing his own MPs and then chucking them out of the Tory party, attempting to suspend Parliament and threatening not to take forward votes passed by MPs.

Rather than build the ‘strong and stable’ nation that David Cameron promised (before running away from the chaos he caused), Boris Johnson has done nothing but wreak havoc, undermining both MPs and members of his own party, as well as stripping the public of proper representation.

If anything’s been made clear, it’s that we need a constitution that’s fit for the 21st century. For too long, this country has had an outdated framework in place that’s made this kind of manic seizure of power possible.

Now that the structure of our so-called democracy is under threat, Boris has exposed the archaic ways in which it can be manipulated, and it is clearly no longer fit-for-purpose.

This week is set to continue to be the biggest ever in recent British politics.

MPs voted against a crash-out Brexit last night, and we’re yet to see the result of high court rulings on whether this extended prorogation of Parliament is actually legal. By Friday, we may be on the road to having our third general election in less than five years. 

Last weekend saw tens of thousands of democracy demonstrators take to the streets in a bid to stop this power grab, and now, fresh anti-prorogation protests have been planned in 30 cities and towns ranging from Woking to Copenhagen.

On Friday, I’ll be joining my fellow Green Party MEPs at a protest in Westminster.

We haven’t been gifted our democracy – it has been a hard-fought battle by our ancestors including those of Peterloo, the suffragettes, and the work of the trade unions. As a Liverpudlian woman on the left, born in the aftermath of the Toxteth riots, it is these movements that have helped form my own politics.

While it’s easy to feel disheartened, we need to stay positive and united. We can rebuild this house – and what’s more, we can make it storm-proof. Had we had an airtight, written constitution, it simply wouldn’t have been so easy for the prime minister and his aides to cause so much destruction. Now is our opportunity to redesign something robust and fit for modern Britain, which would stop similar situations from arising again. We should put people at the heart of its creation, through People’s Assemblies, so that we can restore trust in politics and create a genuine People’s Parliament.

We will not allow these rich, Eton toffs and their mates to win. They certainly won’t be the people suffering from the fall-out of this mess. It will be those whose daily realities and stresses include an uphill struggle to pay their bills, to put food on the table and those who perennially have debt collectors on their backs.

Now is the time to act, collaborate, organise: sign petitions, attend demonstrations, contact your MP!

Daily protests are taking place all over the country – including outside Westminster. Come and join us on Friday or turn up any day to lend your voice. Now is the time for us all to take a pivotal role in shaping the direction of our country’s future.

Alexandra Phillips is Green MEP for the South East of England.

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