Michael Gove's Commons statement
While all eyes are on the newly reconvened Commons, the Labour party’s autumn conference is still under way. Members this morning voted overwhelmingly to give full voting rights to all UK residents, urging the party to extend the franchise to millions of migrants.
As well as extending voting rights, the motion tabled by the Labour for Free Movement campaign calls on a future Labour government to close all immigration detention centres, ending “no recourse to public funds” policies, and to seeking to extend free movement rights.
The motion also opposed immigration systems based on a person’s income or “utility to big business” and any caps or targets on the numbers of people moving to the UK.
The fact that a motion passes at the Labour party’s conference does not necessarily mean it will end up in a future general election manifesto, though it contributes to the policy-making process.
Only British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens are able to vote in general elections, while citizens of EU countries can vote in local elections and European elections. Extending the vote to the 3 million EU nationals living in the UK would have a significant impact on any second referendum on the UK’s EU membership.
Ana Oppenheim, from the Labour Campaign for Free Movement and the leftwing pro-EU group Another Europe is Possible, said it was “a source of shame for many activists” that the party’s 2017 manifesto pledged to end free movement. She said:
Now we can move forward not only committed to defending free movement, but to giving migrants the vote. If we win, the next election will be the last election in which people like me are shut out of the democratic process.
Celebrating the success of the motion the Labour Campaign for Free Movement tweeted a photograph of the controversial “Controls on Immigration” mug, which was produced by the Labour party during the 2015 general election campaign. “Now officially in the bin,” the tweet read.
The motion said Labour should campaign for “free movement, equality and rights for migrants”. It also said:
Free movement, equality and rights for migrants, are socialist values and benefit us all.
Confronted with attacks on migrants – from the racist ‘hostile environment’ to the Conservatives’ immigration bill that plans to end free movement and strip the rights of working-class migrants – we stand for solidarity, equality and freedom.
Scapegoating, ending free movement and attacking migrants’ rights are attacks on all workers. They make migrant workers more precarious and vulnerable to hyperexploitation, pressing down wages and conditions for everyone.
They divide us, making it harder to unionise and push back.
At the 2017 election Labour’s manifesto said freedom of movement within the EU would end when the UK ceased to be a member. After Brexit Labour wants a close relationship with the single market, but it has not formally committed to keeping the UK in the single market – a move that would ensure EU free movement continued.
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What Geoffrey Cox said about parliament being 'a disgrace' with 'no moral right to sit'
Here is a full version of what Geoffrey Cox said about parliament being a “disgrace” with “no moral right to sit”. He was responding to a question from Rory Stewart, the former international development secretary who lost the Tory whip after rebelling over Brexit. Cox said:
I would agree with him that parliament has to determine the terms on which we leave, but this parliament has declined three times to pass a withdrawal act, with which the opposition – in relation to the withdrawal act – had absolutely no objection.
Then we now have a wide number of this house setting its face against leaving at all. And when this government draws the only logical inference from that position, which is that it must leave therefore without any deal at all, it still sets its face, denying the electorate the chance of having its say in how this matter should be resolved.
This parliament is a dead parliament. It should no longer sit. It has no moral right to sit on these green benches ...
They don’t like to hear it Mr Speaker. Twice they have been asked to let the electorate decide upon whether they should be allowed to sit in their seats, while they block 17.4 million people’s vote. This parliament is a disgrace.
Given the opportunity, since I am asked, let me tell them the truth: they could vote no confidence at any time, but they are too cowardly. They could agree to a motion to allow this house to dissolve but they are too cowardly.
This parliament should have the courage to face the electorate. But it won’t, because so many of them are really all about preventing us leaving the European Union at all.
But the time is coming, the time is coming Mr Speaker, when even these turkeys won’t be able to prevent Christmas.
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Jacob Rees Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, is expected to lay out government business this afternoon. He is expected to request a short break for Conservative Party conference - a proposal which Jeremy Corbyn said they could oppose.
The Conservative party has indicated it will continue with conference, scheduled to take place in Manchester from Sunday to Wednesday next week, whatever is decided by Parliament.
James Cleverly, the party’s co-chairman, has Tweeted that it will go ahead.
A debate could be held on any proposed break as early as Thursday. If the government loses that vote, it could give the Conservatives a real headache.
Conference is a highly lucrative event for the party. If a break is not formally supported, it could force Tory ministers and MPs to return from conference events for votes.
One option for the government would be to table non-controversial bills for next week, which would take up most of the day. However, they might still have to return for major votes.
It has also emerged that the government’s opponents in parliament could apply to the high court asking for a civil servant to go to Brussels if Boris Johnson has not brought back a deal by October 19th and refuses to request an article 50 extension.
It is understood that an application would be made at the Royal Courts of Justice to direct a high ranking civil servant, possibly the cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill, to carry out parliament’s duty.
The Queen’s speech, scheduled for October 14, is where the government will set out its agenda and forthcoming priorities.
A vote is scheduled to take place five days later on October 21, where MPs will debate the measures put forward by the government.