Caroline Lucas – 2022 Speech in the No Confidence in the Government Motion

The speech made by Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, in the House of Commons on 18 July 2022.

The motion is right in one respect. The debate we need to have was never just about one lawbreaking, Parliament-proroguing, office-abusing Prime Minister; it was always about this tawdry, toxic Government as a whole.

Every single MP on the Government Benches who stood by the current Prime Minister while he dissembled and denigrated his way through two and half years is implicated in his offences. Every one of them who stood by while the partying happened, while the attempts to cover up bullying in the Home Office happened and while the rules were being changed to protect their mates while sexual harassment was being brushed under the carpet, is complicit. Did those who finally resigned really only just realise that the Prime Minister was serially incapable of honesty, of integrity, of decency? Of course not. They have been a Government with no respect for standards in public life, no respect for the law and no respect for the British public.

Like all of us, I stand here to represent my constituents. Frankly, the Government do not have the right even to ask my constituents to have confidence in them. That they seek to do so tonight only underscores their abject failure to even begin to understand what integrity means. That is why we need not just a change of leader, but a change of Government and an immediate general election.

I do not have time to go through all the different reasons for not having confidence in the Government, but let me mention just two. Today’s debate is happening while the country is in the grip of the kind of deadly weather event that so many of us have been warning about for so long and which will only get worse in the future. Yet the Government are planning to green-light new extraction of oil and gas reserves from the North sea knowing it will make no difference to consumer bills or energy security, but a world of difference to an already overheating planet. That approach is not just immoral but criminally negligent.

On democracy, it would be easy to dismiss the Government as simply the incompetents they are, but that would be wrong. The populist style of politics they have inflicted on this country is deeply dangerous. They risk a frightening descent into what the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Mhairi Black) bravely and correctly called out in May: fascism. As she said back then, fascism does not always arrive wearing jackboots. It can come knocking more subtly than that. Students of fascism have helpfully suggested some of its signs: disinformation, misogyny, disdain for intellectuals, social conformity, suppression of trade unions, threats to human rights, the creation of hate groups and abuse by them, the rise of militarisation and, of course, racism, which is at the heart of fascism. Do any of those sound familiar?

There is a pattern here if only we are prepared to see it. We like to tell ourselves that we live in a mature democracy, yet this populist Government have deliberately set out to weaken the very institutions that define a liberal democracy. They have set out to make it easier for them to cling to power, whether they enjoy the confidence of the electorate or not. So no, Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not have confidence in this Government. That the Prime Minister’s political career has ended in failure and disgrace is thoroughly deserved. Anyone voting for the motion tonight deserves the same fate.