The Prorogation of Parliament and Beyond
By the time you read this, the news could well have rollercoastered in yet another direction: will parliament be prorogued next week (Nav Lehl’s guide explains what that even means), will the Tory rebel alliance vote down their own government, and will Dilyn the Welsh rescue dog terrier have made his escape from Number 10?
Every day our news is reading increasingly like a soap opera script, but one thing remains certain: the next few weeks will see the most implausible become the highly likely. When Boris Johnson outlined his next steps on Downing Street last night, it was difficult to hear what he had to say, with chants of “Stop The Coup” ringing out from all along Whitehall.
Since last week, we have seen rallies across the UK: from rural towns, to city centres. Just hours after the Queen approved Boris Johnson’s plan, thousands of protesters took the streets of at least 10 cities. This is unprecedented. People have been calling out a Prime Minister (reminder: a PM that less than 1% of the UK voted for) who has decided push the vote to prorogue parliament. When Parliament returns this afternoon after recess, they are expected to put forward legislation under Standing Order 24 – a rule that allows urgent debates to be heard. MPs will vote on whether to take control of Parliament to extend the Brexit deadline to the end of January 2020. Boris Johnson has vowed to call a General Election if he fails today.
Whatever your political persuasion, the state of the nation has now gone far beyond 20th Century narratives of Left or Right. We are all holding deep rooted and passionate beliefs—in daily conversation there is more political discussion than I can remember. Positions are rigid and emotions are running high.
Fashion Roundtable is here to be a key part of that shifting need: we know that fashion needs to wake up, realise what the implications of our actions are and take responsibility. Just as fashion needs to understand the global impacts of a business creating too much product, which devalues those at the bottom of the supply chain with wages which are too low for them to live with dignity, all the while creating a huge deficit of waste and pollution. To do this, we know that the business and our community need clear policies, which go beyond borders and understand the international threads of our business— with products which can go between 12 or more countries from design to delivery. In such a marketplace can we really draw up the drawbridge and create hard borders? Can we realistically do business in a digital era, with delays to business from a return to border controls and restrictions? Is it not more likely that the business will either go underground – which is why we are advocating that fashion manufacturing workers are added to the shortage occupation visa list, or move elsewhere, as we flagged with our Brexit report over a year ago.
I do really understand that many of us, however resilient we are, have gone way beyond, what I term, “peak Brexit”. It’s like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, where every day the news sounds surreal (it is) and nothing other than bulk buying tinned goods, or being a keyboard warrior, makes much sense anymore. Some of us are understandably sick of the whole topic and just want to go back to a time before Brexit and find the whole situation so illogical, that they cannot see why this is still going on, when it has caused in all likelihood two General Elections, billions of pounds spent on planning and businesses stockpiling, relocating or going under completely.
So wherever you are in the political spectrum, now is clearly not the time to look away. The new month will see crucial decisions, with long-term implications, being decided. That is why we have asked Nav to explain prorogation in this week’s newsletter and why Rafaella, our policy assistant, has created a letter which you can use as a template to email your MP explaining your concerns about the threat of a No Deal Brexit and the impact this might have on you and your business. Bearing in mind that UK Fashion makes over £32bn for the our economy. As your elected representative, MPs are all too aware of the likelihood they are about to lead an election campaign in their constituencies, meaning all 650 UK MPs will be thinking of how to keep and win votes. As the last two elections have shown, a clear majority is anything but likely and all will be aware that every vote really matters. Boris Johnson himself only has a majority in Uxbridge of 5,043, while Amber Rudd’s Hastings majority is merely 346. Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile, enjoys a majority of 33,215 in Islington North.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of your voice and your vote.
Today sees the launch of the campaign for our policy paper on Representation and Inclusion in the Fashion Industry. This is the first policy work of this kind, created by the fashion industry and very exciting. A potential road map, not only of where we are now, but solutions to promote positive and inclusive change. Please have your say in our survey and share our social links including the hashtag #areyourepresented.