I am not really the person to ask about the perils of seeking to do things in haste. I spend a great deal of my life trying to get things done by yesterday. And that’s not because I am late. I hate being late. It’s because I want to get on with things.
But I have learned over time that this is not always wise. Second thoughts are possible, and even desirable. Most ideas improve when discussed. That’s a reason why I appreciate most of the comments on this blog. And sometimes it’s just appropriate to make changes.
Experience shows that governments know this. It is astonishing how many changes to legislation that are proposed in the Commons are from the government itself because it has realised that its first draft could be improved.
All of which is to say, of course, that debating the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) in three days is a terrible idea.
And there is no need for it.
First, the EU will grant an extension. Let’s not pretend otherwise.
Second, the reason for the delay in getting to this Bill was entirely down to the government. Since the April extension was granted Theresa May wasted time continually failing. Then we had a leadership election. And then Johnson, quite deliberately, did nothing for as long as possible so that this situation might be engineered. This ‘crisis of timing’ was chosen.
I have no idea how today’s votes will go. I have a suspicion that a second reading of the WAB might pass because it is time one was discussed, if only to permit its amendment and, even, eventual rejection. But the attempt to curtail debate to three days is a travesty of justice, of democracy and of the supposed status of parliament that Leavers claim is so dear to them.
I am sure that the government needs to lose on this issue. Delay on this occasion is both necessary and wise because the result will be better for the country, whatever the eventual outcome. And what defeats me is why the Leavers should want an unwise Brexit.