Sack the MP

In the end it was all rather quick. One minute Zahawi was here and the next minute he was gone. Sunday morning must have been a good day to bury bad news. On the face of it, Sunak has done what he said he would. Faced with the evidence he removed the Minister without Portfolio, bypassing the usual niceties of letting him resign, citing seven counts of breaking the ministerial code. Zahawi’s acceptance letter was hardly contrite and seemed to accuse others of being responsible for his downfall. 

There has already been talk of bringing him back into government at some unspecified point in the future. Is he so talented that we can’t do without him or does this reflect a dearth of talent in the Conservative Party? Such talk seems wrong to me. If you have done something as serious as breaching the ministerial code then surely you must serve out some reasonable sentence. No minister proven to have broken the code should be allowed back into government within the same parliament. It simply makes a mockery of the system.

There are also questions as to why Zahawi is still an MP. Having sacked him as a minister, why hasn’t the Prime Minister sacked him as a MP? One again this shows a lack of understanding of how our system works. MPs are selected by the electorate. They are not as such employed in the normal sense of the word. The Prime Minister, or leader of the party, is not their employer. The worst that the Prime Minister could do in this case would be to remove the whip, effectively kicking Zahawi out of the party though he would still remain a MP.

Until 2015 there was no way to get rid of a MP until an election. Only should the MP go to jail for more than a year would they be forced to step down. The Recall of MPs Act 2015 changed this and made provision for constituents to be able to recall their MP and call a by-election but only if they have committed some wrongdoing, such as  a conviction for providing false or misleading expenses claims. The recall is instituted through a petition which must have at least ten percent of the constituents signatures. In Zahawi’s case this would be 6,911 names. A successful recall results in a by-election.

This is a good thing. It reinforces the primacy of the electorate over the elected. MPs are selected to serve the public and it is the public that decides if enough is enough. This removes the MP’s position from the vagaries of political infighting and manoeuvring. 

Should Zahawi still be the MP for Stratford-on-Avon? Let the electorate decide.

An understanding of our political system should be taught in schools.

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