The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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Dear lovely people,

You're busy. I'm busy. We've all got many things competing for our time. Except Parliament, of course, which is very much not busy. There are lots of laborious bits and pieces they just need to get through at some point.  All of which means, I'm going to mercifully brief and allow you to get on with your hobbies.

No Deal

The big focus in Parliament right now is, of course, Brexit. We all had great larks this week with all those votes. One passed saying that the Commons doesn't want a no deal Breixt. It doesn't feel like that means a lot, though. There was no majority for extending Article 50, or the nuclear options of a General Election or Second Vote.  Unless they can agree to a deal, it's still very possible to leave on March 29th with nothing.

Alternative Arrangements

The other vote that passed was this 'alternative arrangement' thing. We want to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement and find some alternative to the backstop. Of course, the EU say we can't re-open the WA. And if we do, then maybe Spain will have another go at re-claiming Gibraltar, or the French might be eyeing up our fishing waters.

The real business is, therefore, over in Brussels. Various people, including the PM herself, will be over there trying to negotiate something meaningful. It does appear that there are many, many Conservative MPs who want to be given enough space to climb down.  

The battle lines are set. Can the PM's Team UK get Junker's Team EU to budge?  Can we find any alternative arrangements? If they do, will other compromises have to be made?  Can they find compromises that are just enough for the Conservatives to vote it through on February 14th?

Party Politics

The chief whip (who is in charge of keeping everyone in line) told Conservative MP Justine Greening that 'we're this close to losing power'. He was, of course, holding his thumb and index finger to show just how close he meant.

If it looks like Brexit has suddenly got more party political, it's because it really has. Many Conservative MPs are very keen to back their Prime Minister, get on with the transition period on 29th March and for this dodgy period to be over. 

Indeed, Andy McDonald (Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary) told BBC Two's Politics Live 'Of course I want to be party political. This is about our future. There's a difference of opinion. Let's stop this nonsense about 'stop being party political'. There is nothing more important and party political than this issue. It's the future of our country that's at stake here, for goodness sake.' 


Back to this week

There isn't much happening in Parliament. The Lords are looking at two pieces of important Brexit legislation, but MPs have a pretty easy time of it. All eyes will be 320 miles away in Brussels.

What's interesting is that MPs have had their February half-term recess cancelled. There is lots they need to be doing. Just, apparently, not this week. 


Alas! I fear I haven't been as brief as you might have hoped. I must admit I find the whole return to Party Politics thing very interesting. I hope you do too.

Stay warm, lovely reader. Stay warm.


Sunday - Marr and Ridge are on the TV with some politicians. If you aren't sick of MPs discussing Brexit, you might want to tune in. If you are, I'd recommend making a nice brunch for you and yours.
Monday - Very little going on in the Commons. The Lords are tweaking the actually very important Trade Bill.

There is a petition debate in Westminster Hall. The petition calls for 'Brexit re article 50 it must not be suspended/stopped under any circumstances'. 

Tuesday - Yeah. Another day of thumb twiddling for MPs.  The Lords are looking at the Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill.

Wednesday - PMQs. Corbyn thinks May is getting Brexit wrong. May disagrees. Yawn. But - once again this week we saw some moving, important and timely questions from backbenchers. It really does pay to tune in to PMQs, even if the headline act isn't quite what you'd hoped for.

After that, the Commons go back to their games of tiddlywinks. The Lords look like they might be following suit, but head over to The Grand Committee room and you'll find them having a close look at the Offensive Weapons Bill.

Thursday- Backbench Business time! We've got general debates on anti-social behaviour and then one on beer taxation and pubs. 

Friday - There will be Private Members Bills in the Commons today, but at the time of writing it hasn't been announced which ones will be up for debate.
Our pick of the laws being debated in the Parliament next week.
(this week these are all in the Lords)
Trade Bill

This is one of the nine new pieces of legislation that lay the groundwork for Brexit. This Bill will attempt to carve out a future for Britain as an independent trading nation after we leave the EU. The Bill will create powers so the UK can transition trade agreements that currently exist between the EU and other countries, and which we are party to through our EU membership. It will also set up a new Trade Remedies Authority, to defend UK businesses against unfair trade practices.  
More details
Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill 
This Bill will give the Government powers to set up and fund healthcare deals with other countries after it leaves the EU. At the moment the UK has Reciprocal Healthcare agreements with other countries based on its EU membership. These agreements support people from the UK to obtain healthcare when they live in, work in or visit other countries and vice versa, for people from other EU countries in the UK. The Bill has already attracted some criticism as it does not mention retaining the European Healthcare Insurance Card that ministers had previously said they would consider.
More details
Offensive Weapons Bill

Knife crime increased by 22% in the UK in 2017, and between 2013 and 2017 the number of recorded corrosive substance (acid) attacks increased from 183 to 504.  

This Bill will make it harder for people to buy knives and acid online, and will make it illegal to possess certain weapons such as knuckle dusters, flick knives, and rapid firing rifles. These measures form part of the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy announced earlier this year and could get cross party support, however the opposition parties regard lack of police resources one of the main causes of increasing crime, which is not a factor this Bill addresses.

More details
I'm back out on tour with my fabulous family comedy politics show!
If you live near any of these places, find some children and come along.
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