Tenshot: The House of Commons Debate and Vote, March 13
Quick thoughts after spending six hours watching the UK’s House of Commons debate the motion on whether a no-deal Brexit is acceptable. (They passed a motion saying that a no-deal Brexit is not acceptable, ever. It’s not legally binding.) Background information: I spent three years on the permanent staff for the Colorado state legislature, which has its own set of quirks. Things that jumped out at me, in roughly the order I noticed them.
- It’s a remarkably small chamber for a 650-member body. The part that’s on-camera would fit comfortably in the room used by the 65-member Colorado House.
- The Speaker! As a former staffer, it was worth watching just for him.
- The level of background noise was quite high at times. I’m impressed that the members can keep talking coherently right through it. While the Speaker asked the other members to be quieter once, he also said, “Speak up, man! We want to hear what you have to say!”
- Later, the chamber was nearly empty. Clearly, only a few people hadn’t already made up their minds.
- The quality of the oratory was impressive. Full sentences. Paragraphs! No notes!!
- One of the members from Northern Ireland was completely unintelligible — to me — when he got excited. Seriously, I didn’t have a clue what his last statement was about. (This is a criticism of me, not him.)
- The call for “Division!” is a real division with people herded into separate areas to be counted. When the Colorado Senate calls a division, they just have the ayes and nays stand in turn. OTOH, the Colorado Senate only has to count 35 people, not 650.
- The Green Lantern theory of government is alive and well in the UK. If the Prime Minister had just used more willpower, the EU would have given in on all points seemed to be a common opinion.
- I wonder if the UK will remain intact. One of the Irish members seemed to be hinting that a unified Ireland might be better than a hard border. One of the Scots proclaimed that Scotland must be allowed to remain a member of the EU, whether as a member of the UK or not.
- Shouldn’t this debate have been six months ago, when there was actually time to do something?