What politicians decree and what the law says often don’t match. This is something that’s become increasingly clear over the past nearly two years now.
In England, for example, vaccine passports are due to come into force tomorrow. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement last Wednesday – but the vote in the House of Commons is only taking place today, less than 24 hours before they’re meant to start.
As of this Tuesday morning, there’s a distinct possibility the vote could yet fail. A large number of Tory MPs have said they don’t like what’s being proposed – although how many will actually have the courage of their convictions to vote against it is something we won’t know until later today. There’ll be more on this subject soon enough, no doubt.
But if this seems odd to you, take a quick look across the Irish Sea. In Northern Ireland, vaccine passports came into legal force yesterday. Venues which are repeatedly caught failing to comply with the regulations face fines of up to £10,000 and spot checks will apparently take place.
Or so say politicians at the local government in Stormont. There’s just one problem…
And that problem is that it isn’t the law yet. A debate was held yesterday for five hours. The motion looks likely to pass – the only parties opposing it are the unionist DUP and the hardline one-man band that is Traditional Unionist Voice. Nonetheless, it seems terribly odd they were discussing the proposal on the day it came into effect. And how did they end up voting?
Er, they didn’t. At 9pm, their speaker decreed that continuing past this time could leave the Assembly liable to legal challenge, citing they could be in breach of one of their own rules – without citing which rule he was talking about. The result? A vote still hasn’t taken place as of this morning, and the police – who are actually meant to enforce this – have nothing written in law which says what they’re supposed to do.
Is a bit of competence from politicians too much to ask for these days? Apparently so…