Parliament is back – for a short while anyway – until MPs and Peers go to their respective Party Conferences. Other than that short break, what can we expect from the green and red benches over the next few months?
If we use this week’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions as a guide, backbenchers quizzed the PM on a wide variety of issues: mental health provision, local constituency concerns and dangerous driving laws to name a few. This would surely indicate that MPs are still using Parliament to question Ministers, raise areas of concern and lobbying for their constituents and constituencies. It was encouraging to listen to Wednesday’s session and realise that it might just be business as (almost) usual in Westminster.
However, the media may have other ideas. The morning’s news (print and broadcast) was dominated by the leaked Home Office post-Brexit immigration policy document, EU Withdrawal Bill disagreements and the backbench letter to the PM urging her to stick to her guns on leaving the Single Market. Comment, analysis and reaction filled columns and airwaves for most of the week. And quite rightly – we need scrutiny of these documents and what the Government is planning once we leave the EU. One of the many criticisms to date is the lack of detail and uncertainty which is not allowing businesses to plan.
But do we need this detail at the expense of other news. What about Ministry of Defence shipbuilding strategy or the dire situation in Burma? If we want our politicians to stand up for such causes, constituency cases and perceived injustices we need to give them a mouthpiece via the national media.
This could be an indication of how reporting will function until our Brexit deal is finalised. Hopefully there will be a positive balance between holding the Government to account and informing the public, coupled with reporting on the wide variety of other issues raised by MPs, Peers and other representatives. Time will tell.