“Spin and presentation don’t make good government, it is parliament that makes good government,” said Conservative MP Peter Bone in remarkable speech detailing how the government broke ministerial code with Johnson's Sunday address.
While speaking to Channel 4 news, the Member of parliament for Wellingborough said;
They just do not understand how the government works in this country.
This is the second time in recent days that the Tories have needed a tutorial on the British Constitution, and told that they too must follow its rules. The other came when Conservative MP for Bishop Auckland, Dehenna Davison claimed that the BBC was wrong to broadcast a challenge from the Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer, people on Twitter had to explain to the recently elected MP how democracy works.
On Channel 4 News, Bone said:
The prime minister goes on television and announces all sorts of executive orders without any reference to parliament.
Many of them have clearly been watching too many episodes of West Wing
For those who are unfamiliar, The West Wing was a legendary American political TV series set in the West Wing of the White House, where the Oval Office is, which basically defined politics for many people in the 2000s.
Bone then went on to list the reasons why Sunday’s television address was “wrong.”
First, he explained that “the Speaker had warned the government twice not to do this.” He said it was made clear to Johnson and the government that new policy must be announced in the House of Commons first.
But the government decided to disobey the Speaker’s wishes.
This is not how our parliamentary democracy works.
Secondly, in doing this, the government “clearly” breached the ministerial code, he claims.
By circumnavigating parliament, Bone said the government denied MPs the opportunity to “constructively question the Prime Minister when the change in policy was announced.”
He explains in his third point that MPs are the elected representatives of the people of the UK, who have received “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails and letters and phone calls from worried and concerned constituents,” and therefore are best placed to advise government.
Fourthly, the fine details of the change in policy, he says, should have been published at the same time as the change in policy was announced, so that people could understand in detail what it was saying. But only now has the 51 page document been published, letting “uncertainty and confusion reign.”
Finally, Bone argues that “the government should have gone out of its way” to give Parliament the best opportunity to scrutinise changes on “the most important issues facing the country.”
In a zinger of a conclusion, he finished with:
Spin and presentation don’t make good government, it is parliament that makes good government.
People on social media were supportive of Bone, with many finding themselves surprised to be in agreement with the right-wing Brexiteer who in 2009, said that the NHS would "fit in Stalin’s Russia."
Well, if 2020 has taught us anything it's even a leopard can change its spots. And by "leopard" we mean... Piers Morgan, and by "change", we mean... at least for now.