Ladies and gentlemen (and those who feel that neither of these labels apply to them),
Another email, another need for a little personal note before we get going.
Today is Day One of what's going to be a tumultuous two months. This email is normally a weekly preview that comes out on a Friday. I don't think that that format is going to work particularly well as we go through these times. Not least because predicting the next week on a Friday morning is likely to be pretty hard to do.
Instead, I propose to email you as and when it feels suitable. When I think I might have something to say that you might find useful.
I will try to keep it brief, informative and relevant. Long term readers will know I don't always succeed in the brevity thing, but I promise you I'll try. It's just I get a bit excited sometimes.
I hope you'll stay with me through this potentially multiple email time. As soon as politics settles down again into regular Parliamentary weeks (maybe 2021???), normal service will resume.
Peace and love, people.
The wonderful kids show I do withe the excellent Tiernan Douieb has a couple of London dates in the next few weeks.
Crickey. Where to start. Last week I took you through a little look back, so while I'm tempted to begin again at 23rd June 2016, I won't. I've promised to at least attempt brevity, so that's what I'll do.
What does Johnson want?
He is firmly committed to leaving on 31st October.
He says he wants to have a deal, and there is time with an EU meeting on 18th October where a deal could be signed off. He also says that all these rebel shenanigans are stoping the EU from giving us a deal. Mostly the EU has been clear that they won't remove the backstop, but Johnson has said that he thinks that position is softening and that the EU famously only ever give ground at the last possible minute. So, a Johnson deal might be possible. If it does happen, expect it to look very similar to Theresa May's deal, but with 'alternative arrangements' somehow made to fit the space that the backstop was taking up.
Of course, if a deal can't be reached - which is very possible - he'll take us out with no deal. Something he and his government are urging people to prepare for now. We have seen some warning of shortages and price rises for some fresh foods, but the Johnson government says these will be bumps on the road and normal service will be resumed shortly. Gove said yesterday that 'we will have all the food we need'. This was not generally received as comforting.
Why does Johnson want this?
This kinda depends on how you see him. If your picture of Mr Johnson is one of a principled and fine man, you might think it's because he was a primary campaigner to leave. He believes in the UK's future outside the EU. He wants to deliver that.
If you are more suspicious of him, you might think it's so that he can neutralise the threat of the Brexit Part and call an election after we've left giving him a stronger majority and a platform from which to pass his legislative agenda over the next 5 years.
What to the Anti No Deal Team want?
The Anti No Deal Team is a coalition. Those who want to stop Brexit altogether have got together with those who want a soft or even a hard Brexit with a deal. For example, the man doing the media rounds this morning was a guy called David Gauke. He's a former government minister under Theresa May, who voted three times for Theresa May's deal. He wanted to leave in March as scheduled. But he doesn't want to leave with no deal. SO he's one of the leaders of the pack who will do almost anything to stop this from happening - he's even prepared to be thrown out his party and not allowed to stand as a Conservative in the next election.
Of course, it's not just Conservative rebels, they're joined by members of the Labour Party, the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party. It's widely seen that this coalition has a majority in the Commons and the Lords - although this will be tested in votes this week.
So what is the plan for the Anti No Deal Team?
Thanks to a shortened session, options are a bit tighter than planned. We'll almost certainly see an SO24 debate tomorrow. That's when someone asks the speaker to have an emergency debate. The Speaker then decides whether to allow it (he will).
We then get what's normally a 2-hour debate, followed by a vote. Now, stay with me on this because it gets a bit complicated. Normally this vote is very bland. Have MPs discussed this issue? Yes, yes they have. Job done. But. It is possible to amend this vote.
The question might now be more like: 'Have MPs debated this and should there be space in the Parliamentary timetable for a new Bill to stop No Deal?'
Which creates the space for this brand new Bill, which will presumably go through on Wednesday and start the Lords on Thursday, concluding on Monday if all goes to plan.
If it doesn't go to plan, expect a vote of no confidence to disrupt things (although Johnson could set an election date after 31st October) and may be more efforts to bring in a law on Monday.
We can also look forward to brand new plans being hatched as the week goes on. Both sides will use every bit of the constitution and any constitutional loopholes they can find.
The Week Ahead.
Tuesday - Fun and games. There is stuff scheduled for today, but what's actually going to happen is that an 'emergency debate' will be applied for and granted, then in the following debate an amendment will be put down to take over the timetable of Parliament and run a Bill through that would force Johnson to accept an extension from the EU if one were offered and to make it illegal for us top eave without a deal without the consent of Parliament.
As ever on the first day back, there will be plenty of Urgent Questions and Ministerial Statements. Parliament doesn't sit until 2.30, so I wouldn't expect any of the fireworks to start until 6ish.
Wednesday - Boris Johson's first PMQs. It's going to be box office. Cancel your lunchtime plans. Watch. It starts at 12ish, with Jeremy Corbyn's questions coming early on in the session. Expect theatrics from Johnson and outrage from Corbyn.
After that, it largely depends on how the voting went last night. We could be witnessing history as a Bill that may prevent a no-deal Brexit is going through the Commons. Or we could be watching history as a Bill that prevents the use of 'wild' animals in circuses goes through. Exciting times to be alive, right?
Thursday- I love Parliament. After two massive days with huge potential to change the future of the country, today will be very quiet inside the Commons. If the 'rebels' Bill has been successful, it will be off to the Lords, where they will be battling against filibustering from Berxiteers. They'll have today and Monday to get that through. Meanwhile, in the Commons, they'll have backbench lead debates on topics nobody will pay any interest in.
Also, Jacob Rees-Mogg will outline the future business of the House and presumably confirm that Parliament will rise for Prorogation on Monday 9th.
Friday - No Parliament scheduled. To be honest, I've no idea where we'll be by this stage of the week. I suspect you'd rather I didn't just make stuff up.
Sunday - My wonderful family politics show rolls into Jackson's Lane in Highgate. Join us if you can!
Monday - It's not been confirmed, but this is the day that the Government must report on Northern Ireland progress. That's why Johnson can't suspend Parliament before today. This had been a particular target as it was thought the motion could be amended to stop No Deal from taking place, but it's now unclear if that's possible as there are fewer days. If the bid to pass new legislation failed last week, attempts will still be made.
Also, a vote of no confidence could be made today, especially if the other attempts had failed.