Lord Falconer Says No To General Election, Yes To MPs Doing Their Job

28 October 2019, 15:34

Former Labour Justice Secretary told Shelagh Fogarty it's time for parliamentarians to do their job and find solutions instead of seeking an election.

Shelagh asked: "You don't think that Boris Johnson, despite that second reading success that he had on his withdrawal agreement, Bill, you don't think he's anxious that MPs will start to hang amendments off that including maybe a People's Vote because there's a real risk of that, isn't that?"

Lord Falconer replied: "Well, I think legitimately MPs should look at the transition period and make amendments to that.

"I think they need to scrutinise very closely the arrangements between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. They might or might not put in a Customs Union. I doubt that they will.

"He gave this bill a second reading. What was the point of giving this bill a second reading unless he was intending to go through with it? Was it just posturing on his part?

"I do feel that when the history books are written, Shelagh, people will say if this Parliament cuts and runs now, it was one of the most unsuccessful parliaments of recent years.

Its existence was there to do Brexit and just as it began to ease closer to resolving what for many people in the country is a real anxiety, because many other people it's something they want resolved, it shied away from doing the job."

Lord Falconer Says No To General Election, Yes To MPs Doing Their Job
Lord Falconer Says No To General Election, Yes To MPs Doing Their Job. Picture: PA

Shelagh said: "I am with you on this. I don't think there should be an election.

"I think there should be either a resolution or or an answer to the failure to have a resolution that, clearly, a lot of the MPs who you say are cutting and running have decided that a general election is the answer to the failure.

"But again, the point you made about the recent success of Boris Johnson's withdrawal agreement bill kind of puts that argument to bed.

So is isn't the reality then, or the logic in a sense of what you've just said, that Labour if you were in there in that meeting talking about what they should do would be that you'd advise them to stick with their guns and say no, get back in there and do the job, scrutinise this bill, push and see where it goes."

Falconer: "That is exactly what I would be advising and I very much hope that Labour does that but I think quite legitimately Labour is discussing it in the Shadow Cabinet at the moment and they haven't made up their mind.

"But I would say no to a general election, I would say, with respect, it's for us in Parliament now to do our job, to resolve differences in the country, produce solutions, not to hope that there's some party advantage by having a general election now, for the reasons you went through, it appears as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are doing."