As your Students’ Union, we strongly condemn the prorogation of the UK Parliament by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Our stance has been taken in line with the results of our All Student Vote conducted in March this year, in which 82.9% of students who voted (from a total turnout of 17.9%) asked us to support the national campaign for a People’s Vote on Brexit. By suspending Parliament, the Prime Minister is halving the time for MPs to hold him to account and debate Brexit before the upcoming deadline on October 31st. As a result, this effectively eliminates the possibility for there to be a second referendum on Brexit. With our mandate from students regarding this issue, we therefore cannot in any way support what we feel to be a highly undemocratic and historically unprecedented decision.

Following this statement, we will be writing to local MPs; Alan Whitehead (MP for Southampton Test), Caroline Nokes (MP for Southampton and Romsey North), Royston Smith (MP for Itchen) and Steve Brine (MP for Winchester) to state our position and ask them for support on this matter. We will provide updates on this, along with the letters in a copiable format in case you would like to use them to write to your home MPs as well, later today.

In the meantime, you may have seen the petition against the prorogation of Parliament. If you would like to join us in signing it, you can find it here.

A protest is also being held this Saturday 31 August at 12 noon in Southampton. You can find more details about this here. Some of your Sabbatical Officers will be attending, so if you would like to join them, please meet at Highfield Interchange at 11:00 on Saturday. You can also get in touch for more information from our Sabbs via Facebook or email.

If you have any further ideas for what you would like us to do, or have any comments regarding this matter, please get in touch with me at President@soton.ac.uk

–          Emily Harrison, Union President, on behalf of the Sabbatical team and SUSU.


UPDATE:

Further to our statement earlier today regarding the Prime Minister’s decision to prorogue the UK parliament, we have now written to local MPs to state our position and ask them for support on this matter.

If you would like to get in touch with your own MP regarding this matter, you can find a downloadable version of one of these letters, which you can then edit, here.  

You can find out who your local MP is and how to contact them via this website.

We also sent a letter to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. If you would like to send a similar letter, you can also find a downloadable version of this, which you can then edit, here. You can get in touch with the Prime Minister via the form on this website. The form is only 1000 characters long, so if your letter is longer you will need to upload it as a Google Doc and send a link.

It is also important to note that, since our original statement, a protest has been organised to take place in Southampton at 12 noon on Saturday. It will be this protest that the Sabbatical Officers attend. We will be meeting at Highfield Interchange at 11am if anyone would like to join us. For more details, please find the event information here.

–          Emily Harrison, Union President, on behalf of the Sabbatical team and SUSU


UPDATE from Emily Harrison, Union President:

We have now received replies from our local MPs (Alan Whitehead, Caroline Nokes, Steve Brine and Royston Smith), but not from the Prime Minister. You can read their responses below.

Alan Whitehead and Caroline Nokes were very supportive, however it is disheartening to see Steve Brine and Royston Smith being so dismissive. In particular, it is clear that Steve Brine did not even take the time read our letter (see emails below).

This is simply not good enough. Too often, students are dismissed and marginalized but you make up a large percentage of the constituencies that these MPs represent and should have your voices heard. We have therefore invited these MPs to come in and talk to students, to hear your concerns and answer questions about what they are doing on your behalf.


FURTHER UPDATE:

We have now received a response on behalf of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. You can read this response below.

The email raises the Prime Minister’s disagreement with the Supreme Court judgement over the unlawful prorogation of Parliament. Furthermore, the reply from Number 10 is very much expectant of the UK leaving the EU on the 31 October, and highlights the Governments hope that a new withdrawal agreement might be reached. Its also states that MPs will be given time to debate Brexit both before and after the meeting of the European Council on the 17-18 October, and that this would give plenty of time for any new withdrawal bill to pass into law.

In the meantime, an event is being held at the Bridge on the 10 October where you can meet and chat to your local MPs. Currently attending are:

  • Caroline Nokes – Independent MP for Romsey and Southampton North. Caroline will be attending 16:00 – 17:00.
  • Alan Whitehead – Labour MP for Southampton Test. Alan will be attending 16:00 – 18:00.

You can find the event here.

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