The Government’s Recall Bill is before Parliament. I am signed up to all the amendments brought forward by Zac Goldsmith to deliver voter-led recall. As I have long said here, I am in politics to re-establish a working system of Parliamentary democracy. As a minimum, that means an EU referendum plus proper recall.
As it stands, the Government’s proposals involve three stages. The trigger for recall would be an MP receiving a custodial sentence, or suspension from the House. Voters in the MP’s constituency would then be eligible to sign a petition which, upon reaching a threshold of votes, would see the seat vacated and a by-election held.
These proposals fall short of the spirit of the powers proposed by all the main parties before the last election. The narrow criteria to trigger recall would seldom apply: it is rare for MPs to be suspended from Parliament or to serve custodial sentences. Under the current Bill, it would be possible for an MP to switch parties or refuse to attend Parliament without meeting the criteria to trigger a recall at all.
Zac Goldsmith is leading efforts in Parliament to achieve a robust voter-led mechanism for proper accountability to restore public trust. I am supporting all his amendments to replace the Government’s proposals.
I can see why campaigning MPs fear vexatious recall attempts by opponents but it is necessary for public confidence that MPs are subject to meaningful recall as set out by Zac. I look forward to voting with him and all those colleagues who, like me, think confidence in Parliament is more important than the risks we may face as elected representatives.