Much of what we heard yesterday was just tedious virtue-signalling from the opposition benches
I very rarely find myself in a melancholic mood, but travelling down from my Yorkshire constituency to Westminster on Tuesday night, I wasn’t in my usual high spirits. I love being in Parliament, serving my constituents and our great country. But I couldn’t avoid asking myself a troubling question – what is the point of this Parliament sitting? After spending yesterday in Westminster, I still can’t think of a decent answer.
I had originally intended to spend the day not in London but at Leeds General Infirmary, visiting sick youngsters and meeting some of the selfless people who work and volunteer for the children’s cancer charity Candlelighters, a cause that has long been close to my heart. It was deeply disappointing, after hosting people from the charity in Parliament to mark childhood cancer awareness month last year, not to be able to make a return visit.
I don’t begrudge spending more of my time on the green benches. On the contrary, it’s part of my job as an MP to be in Parliament while it’s sitting. But what I cannot stand is having to endure hours of tedious nonsense from Remainer MPs who love the sound of their own sanctimonious ramblings. They talk at length on things they dislike – whether it’s Brexit, the Prime Minister, the weather in Westminster, or anything else you care to mention – but are very short on anything constructive to say. Giving up constituency work to listen to this drivel was deeply dispiriting.
Much of what we heard yesterday was just tedious virtue-signalling from the opposition benches. In their most emotionally overwrought tones, they lined up, without a trace of irony, to paint themselves as tireless defenders of democracy, while conveniently forgetting the referendum verdict. Labour’s Barry Sheerman was so seized by outrage that he could barely suppress his fury as he shook and spluttered.
It reminded me of my days working at a children’s music academy, where I once directed a production of Les Mis. Man the barricades, Marius, we have to stop Brexit! But if anybody is singing a song of angry men outside the gates of Westminster, it’s those who just want us to get on with it. After three years spent talking of little else, the last thing we need is more windbaggery on Brexit.
Sadly, this is exactly the fate to which the return of Parliament may yet condemn us unless we can have an election. Hardcore Remainers are seeking only to tie Boris Johnson’s hands in his negotiations with Brussels and to constrain his future actions as PM. They are happy, as the former Tory MP Nick Boles put it, to let him “twist in the wind”. The same goes for Jeremy Corbyn, who is terrified of an election while he remains so far behind in the polls. If this is the limit of their ambitions, why were they so desperate to get back to Westminster?
What is infuriating is how little recent days have changed anything. The situation is essentially the same as it was before Parliament was prorogued and the few extra sitting days are unlikely to change much. Certainly this time won’t allow Remainers to do anything they couldn’t have done within the planned parliamentary timetable.
They might be pleased with themselves, but on yesterday’s showing I can’t help thinking I’d have been better off in Leeds.
Andrea Jenkyns is Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood