Saturday 21 September 2019

Why is Charles Stewart Parnell trending? Ghost of Home Rule leader haunts House of Commons in Brexit debate

Charles Stewart Parnell, from an 1881 postcard
Charles Stewart Parnell, from an 1881 postcard
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

THE ghost of Charles Stewart Parnell haunted the House of Commons on a night of high-drama over Brexit.

MPs clashed heavily last night over whether it was appropriate for rebels to take control of parliament in a bid to stop a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

It fell to the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees Mogg, to argue the Government’s case and object to a vote on parliamentary procedure.

Adopting his characteristically pompous tone, Mr Rees Mogg called on MPs to consider the chaos "this concatenation of circumstances could create".

He claimed attempts to stop the Prime Minister Boris Johnson from taking the UK out of the EU on October 31 were "unconstitutional".

"Usurping the executive’s right is unconstitutional."

READ MORE: Brexit A to Z - Key terms related to Britain's exit from the EU explained

And as the debate gathered pace, the Conservative MP declared: "The approach taken today is the most unconstitutional use of this house since the days of Charles Stewart Parnell when he tried to bung up parliament."

This was a reference to the Home Rule leader who served as a member of parliament from 1875 to 1891.

Parnell adopted a tactic of obstructionism and disrupted proceedings using technical procedures in an effort to force MPs to pay more attention to Irish issues. Often this would involve lengthy speeches that were not relevant to the topic under debate.

The mention of Parnell during the heated debate led to him trending on social media.

Mr Rees Mogg went on to say: "If parliament tries to challenge the people this stretches the elastic of our constitution near to breaking point.

"We should recognise that the people are our masters and show us to be their lieges and servants, not to place ourselves in the position of their overlords.

"As we come to vote today I hope all members Mr Speaker will contemplate the current constitutional confusion and consider the chaos this concatenation of circumstances could create."

READ MORE: €8 million reboot of Parnell's home to create 'world-class' attraction

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