It would be undemocratic and irresponsible for any UK Government to suspend Parliament to avoid losing a vote of MPs and a subsequent general election in order to force through a no-deal Brexit that will plunge Britain into a recession.
As rebellions go, it was an odd one, played out with a touch of farce, a row over a kipper and a dire economic warning.
It pitted current UK Government against MPs who want to ensure the next Government cannot shut down Parliament between the dates of 9 October and 18 December.
The rebels fear this will happen if the new Prime Minister – ie Boris Johnson – is unable to muster enough votes from MPs to allow a no-deal Brexit, which is what will happen unless there is a breakthrough in the EU talks or a further delay.
That’s the same no deal which, according to the Government’s own advisors, the Office for Budget Responsibility, will push the UK into a recession and force the Government to almost double public borrowing next year to £60 billion, with an even bigger debt mountain to follow in 2020-21.
The rebels don’t want Parliament to be suspended because this would mean they would be unable to bring down the Government, forcing a general election at which the people of Britain would be able to vote for candidates who support or oppose a monumentally foolish no-deal Brexit.
A Government suspending democracy to avoid losing a vote in the Commons and a vote by the country, so that it can force through a policy that will trash the UK economy?
This rebellion was odd only because it was necessary.
But Jeremy Hunt, the other candidate in the one-horse race to be next Conservative leader, managed to add an extra touch of the surreal when he accidentally failed to vote – while stressing he would have voted with the Government because it would be wrong, he claimed, for Parliament to “restrict the hand of an incoming Government in this way”.
Just to be clear, his stated position is that it would be wrong to suspend Parliament and he wouldn’t do that if elected leader.
So Hunt would have voted to allow something he doesn’t approve of, but didn’t.
Four other Cabinet ministers, including the Chancellor Philip Hammond, also didn’t vote, but appear to have not done so deliberately, helping the rebels to win a vote that blocks suspension of Parliament – although only while there is no devolved government in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, Johnson waved a kipper about to make a probably inaccurate point about EU regulations.
Ever feel we’re all being stitched up like one?