The Palace of Westminster is falling down.

Gradually on its way to achieving by itself what Guy Fawkes so famously failed to do, the Houses of Parliament have now reached a crisis point in their state of disrepair.

With its fire risks, asbestos and Victorian-era sewage system, the Palace has been described by one BBC Radio 4 journalist as a “national monument to make do and mend”.

Earlier this year Parliament voted to support a £3.5 billion programme of comprehensive renovation works, approving a “full and timely decant” of the building which is due to begin in the mid-2020s.

One question that still remains, however, is where will Parliament sit in the interim?

The most likely proposals will see the Commons and Lords moving within a stone’s throw to Richmond House and the QE2 conference centre in Westminster respectively.

But there have yet to be any serious suggestions for a temporary home outside of the capital.

Ignoring the impracticalities and being a little fanciful for a moment – surely the restoration now provides the perfect opportunity to take the UK’s historic democracy on the road.

While Brexit continues to dominate the headlines day after day it’s been easy to forget the root causes of the referendum’s outcome marking arguably the greatest protest vote of our lifetimes.

A major disconnect between the political elite and the wider population at large in the English and Welsh regions led to feelings ranging from mistrust and apathy to anger.

Therefore what better way to begin repairing that damaged relationship than bringing politics quite literally back to the people?

Think of the positives.

Ministers would no longer be able to stand accused of operating solely in the Westminster bubble.

Parts of the country that have, however reasonably or not, claimed to have become marginalised by the political cycle would feel embraced.

Tabloid editors would have endless opportunities for creative reporting ('SPADs on tour', anyone?).

And after all, who wouldn’t want to see PMQs with May in Maidenhead, Corbyn in Corby, or Cable in Coventry?

So however unlikely a nationwide Parliament might be, perhaps a well-managed transition during the palace’s building work could just be a first step to restoring the goodwill of the people and their faith in our democratic system – let’s face it, we need something.

Giles Venn is an Account Manager at Camargue.

 

destroy