04.01.2018

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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If you loved last year's debate on the meaningful vote, you're going to love... this year's debate on the meaningful vote.


Welcome back, everyone. Did you have a nice festive period? That's good. Because. Well. Nothing brings you back to earth better than the prospect of lots and lots of people saying the same things about Brexit as they have done for the past 6 months and expect everyone else to suddenly listen to them. 

Jeremy Hunt has promised us that Theresa May will 'use clearer language' about the backstop. The EU are saying there is no renegotiating to happen. The DUP have said that if the backstop is still there, they ain't gonna vote for it. All taken together, it looks like the vote (which isn't next week, no it's all just chat next week) will still fall.

So, will we have it this time? If the PM thinks she's going to lose?  I suppose she'll have to, but, once again it looks to be anyone's guess what will happen if it does fall. She can't be challenged by her own party. But she could face a vote of confidence in her government in the Commons. Which is likely to rest on how the DUP feel about a Corbyn government. 

Anyway. Sorry. If I seem a bit weary, it's because I am. We're back a month after the last one and we're in exactly the same place. How many Conservative (or anyone else for that matter) will be swayed by assurances and clearer language?  

You see, I love politics. I really love it. The competing ideologies battling it out for the right to make the world look more like they want it to. Visions for the future spelt out in rhetoric, passion and action. And yet, here we are. Endlessly squabbling over technicalities of Brexit.  When I go into schools and talk to them about the wonder and potential of this country, is this the debate I should point to? Both sides scoring cheap victories on the other? Unrest at the heart of our major parties? Bile and vitriol from all sides?

And yet. And yet. And yet... this really does matter. The Leave vote won and the government are trying to do what they've been asked to. The way we Brexit will change everyone's life. A bit. A lot. How much kinda depends on how we go. Which is the question. Is Theresa May's deal the best we're going to get? Is it what people voted for? Is this still what we want? What does Brexit mean anyway? 

So. Maybe I'm wrong. My fatigue is distorting the way I see this debate. Maybe the three days this week (and two next week) are vital, life-changing discussions about the future of our country. Maybe this is exactly the coming together of wide-ranging ideologies to see what might just be the best thing for our country. 

Here's hoping. See you next week for a full rundown of what on earth might be going on by 15th January and the vote.
 

Sunday - Warm up those pre-debate muscles. Tune in for Ridge (Sky News 9am) and Marr (BBC One 10am).  Play a game - try to find things that politicians say that you agree with. Ignore the other stuff. Just for this week. See if you can find something - just one thing - from every politician. I bet you can. And then you'll feel better about the whole thing. 
 
Monday - MPs are debating the Cox Report into bullying in the Commons. It happens. I saw it all the time when I worked at Parliament. Maria Miller, former cabinet minister, has criticised the initial proposals, so it might be reasonable to expect this to have a rough ride.  That's followed by a General Debate on children in care.

It's worth tuning in at 4.30pm, though. Sky News have been running a campaign to set up an independent commission on televised debates at election time. They're sore as hell about Theresa May not doing one in 2017 and want it to be mandatory in the future.  This petition has now reached 130,000+ signatures and will now be debated in Westminster Hall (the second debating chamber). 

The Lords are looking at the Offensive Weapons Bill today. Have a look below for details. 

Tuesday -  A bit of rubber stamping today. Do you remember the Budget? Back in October? Well, the legal bit is finishing its journey through the Commons today.  There will be talk of amendments, but they probs won't go through. 


Wednesday - It all starts today. Exciting, eh? If you're an early riser, you can kick the whole thing off with the Brexit Committee at 9.15am. It's your prawn cocktail or glass of orange juice before everything to come. They've got Brexit man Chris Heaton-Harris MP up in front of them. I actually really enjoy watching the Brexit committee. There are many, many very intelligent MPs from all sides who ask excellent questions of whoever they've got in front of them.

You've got time for a sneaky coffee break after that, but make sure you're back for midday. It's time for some PMQs action. This really will be the overture. You know, the it where they play familiar strains from the big hits of the show. Expect Corbyn to call the PM a shambles, Robertson to demand that we (or at least Scotland) stay in the Single Market and many MPs bigging up their vision of Brexit. 

And then we're off. The Meaningful Vote II (subtitle: get it right this time). 

Thursday- Day one of the meaningful vote was aces, right? Let's do it all again today!

Friday - Now, I guess that you've been good all year. You must have been. We've got an extra treat today. If MPs agree (on Wednesday), we could get an extra day of Brexit debate, when Parliament was supposed to be closed! I know. We're being spoilt here.
Just the one major piece of legislation this week:

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.
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