The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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Waiting for the dawn


One - on Brexit

Last week, dear reader, I told you all about the latest wheeze from those who really don't want 'No Deal'.  It was an amendment they could table to the estimates day. The government wouldn't have been expecting it. The numbers just might have been there. Except... they weren't.  Almost as soon as you received the email, the wheels began to come off. In the end, the Speaker didn't even choose the amendment for debate. 

There are still many, many MPs who want to stop 'No Deal' from being a thing.  Meanwhile, both candidates for the Big Job are saying it's a possibility.  The game is not up. The MPs will come again.

The trouble is that they need an opportunity. They've tried to pull Parliamentary tricks to force an opportunity, but they narrowly lost that vote.  So, they need the government to give them something, but the government isn't playing ball. It looks like they won't give any space at all until September when the Commons returns under a new Prime Minister. Just weeks away from that potential 'No Deal' day.

For those waiting and biding their time for the big push, the sun is setting for now but will rise again in the Autumn.

Two - on Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has been plunged into political darkness for a very long time now. Only 10 of their 17 MPs take their place in Westminster, as Sinn Fein don't take their seats. Worse, the Northern Ireland Assembly hasn't sat since January 2017. Two and a half years without their representatives to give direction.

As part of the Good Friday Agreement, the two biggest parties (Sinn Fein and the DUP) must share power. It's tough because it's not just party politics, there are divisions around Catholicism and Protestantism, unionism (with the UK) and desires for a united Ireland. These divisions run deep.

And so it is that both sides can't agree enough to share power. There is no hunger to impose direct rule from Westminster. While a budget or two has been passed in this time, MPs are eager to give the powers that be at Stormont the opportunity to come to an agreement.

Which is where we are this week. As things stand there would be fresh elections in Northern Ireland in August. Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland Secretary, doesn't want that. Unless there is a chance of the Assembly sitting, there is no point in encouraging divisions with an election campaign. It's not clear how long the delay might be. She needs to pass a new Bill in Parliament to make this happen and it's going to be debated on Monday.

For now, the people of Northern Ireland must carry on, against a background of Brexit that could hugely change their lives, unrepresented in the dark, searching the horizon for a glimpse of light.

Three - on same-sex marriage

In Northern Ireland, two men can't get married. Nor can two women. This is Pride weekend and the message that love is love seems to be everywhere. 

It looks likely that this Bill to delay an election will face an amendment calling for same-sex marriage to be legalised in Northern Ireland. Karen Bradley has said she is in favour of same-sex marriage, but it's not clear if the amendment will have enough support.

The official line from the government is that it should be the Assembly - when they're up and running - who make decisions on this and abortion.

To those couples who want to get married, this is a shimmer in the distance, whether it turns out to be a false dawn remains to be seen.

The Week Ahead. 

Saturday - my family comedy politics show 'How Does This Politics Thing Work Then?' rolls into the beautiful Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate.  If you're in East Kent, you should come for the venue alone. It's wonderful. The show's pretty great too.

Sunday - Not content with one show this weekend, we're at the Key Theatre in Peterborough. Ticket links for both shows at the end of the email.

Monday -  A rare event in the Commons today. The plan is to get the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill through all its stages in one day.  To do so it has to be a) not terribly controversial and b) fairly simple. This one is both of those things. Northern Ireland is still in such a state, we can't yet have elections yet. All this does is postpone the date. There isn't much here to offer hope for the Assembly sitting any time soon.

There will be at least one amendment put down for this bill: to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. It's possible that something similar for abortion might also be tabled.

There's a petition being debates in the second chamber (Westminster Hall) about enforcing life sentences to those who kill while driving dangerously.

Tuesday -  While most of Westminster has ground to a halt over the past few weeks/months, there is one Department that has kept things ticking along. That's DEFRA - environment, food and rural affairs under Michael Gove.  In recent times we've had a ban on wild animals in circuses, a ban on non-licenced puppy sales, Finn's law on service animals and I think another one, too. 

Well, today it's all animals. This Bill increases maximum sentencing for being mean to animals from six months to five years. It's the only item on the agenda today, but it won't get much argument from the Opposition parties.  Another early finish for the elected representatives.

Wednesday -  PMQs. It's (yet another) sign of where we are with PMQs right now that most questions seemed to be about what the plans or Boris or Jeremy might be, not her own desires. Of course, that wasn't true of Corbyn and May. Oh no. They decided to go through a well-worn set of lines about no deal and voting for a deal. It was dull. So very dull.  It ended by Corbyn saying we should go back to the people - but he wasn't clear if it was a referendum or an election that he wanted.

After PMQs? Not much. A couple of techincal bits and then a pointless 'General Debate' on tackling climate change. Expect MPs to be keen on tackling climate change, but not to actually agree on what we'll do to actually... tackle climate change.

Thursday-  Fans of pointless debates are going to absolutely love today. Love. It. First up we've got '20 years of devolution', then something on 'leasehold reform' - which would be interesting if any action were to be possible. But, no. This is a general debate. They go nowhere.

The good news is that there is nothing to distract you from the real action of the day - England playing (presumably) India in the semi-final of the Cricket World Cup.

Friday -  No Parliament today. With business the way it is right now? Thank goodness.
Margate Tickets
Peterborough Tickets
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