As a rule, public bill committees aren’t really the kind of thing even the most insular Westminster bubble inhabitant buys popcorn to watch. But last night, James Wharton’s private member’s bill found itself the subject of midnight drama in the committee room. Labour MPs decided to filibuster on a series of troublemaking amendments, with the whips calling a late night cooling down break in an attempt to move the proceedings on.
Even though Wharton and Tory colleagues on the bill committee may be rather dozy this afternoon, the late night drama, eventually resolved at 12.30, does allow them to make a political point out of what is normally a very poorly-followed committee stage. They can use this as an example that Labour doesn’t trust the British people and wants to use undemocratic and underhand methods to stop voters having a say in Britain’s membership of the EU. Which makes a lowly committee stage of a lowly private member’s bill another thing to add to the list of reasons for the Tories to be cheerful, as well as a little tired, as recess looms.