12.07.2019

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


Click click click. That's the sound of the rollercoaster carriage slowly, oh so slowly, reaching the top. We know what's coming. We're trying to prepare for it. Somehow, though, the fear makes us wish that we'll never hit that peak. Never round the top and go hurtling back down.

Yes, everything right now appears to be waiting for Boris Johnson to be announced as Prime Minister. There's not too long to go now. 23rd July is only 11 days away. We don't know exactly how long after the announcement of the result it will be before Johnson gets the keys to Number 10.  I don't think he's expected to take PMQs on 24th.

One thing we do know, though, is that there will be a vote of no confidence immediately after he does step up to bat. With a majority of just 3 - including the DUP votes - it's perfectly possible that he loses. That would then, in all likelihood, lead to an election in the Autumn. Either in mid-September (if the vote goes through on 24th) or in mid-October (if it isn't until 25th).

This is the thing. It is quite likely that Boris Johnson won't face Parliament at all until the Autumn. He could well take the role on Thursday 25th and that's the last day of Parliament until 3rd September. He'd be in office over the summer, but not being held to account.

When Parliament does return it will be for two weeks before Conference season. By which time, presumably, Johnson's Brexit plan will be well underway. He's promised he'll take us out by October 31st.

If he does as he said he will, he's also talking about an election. He won't want one beforehand, because of the threat of the Brexit Party, but after we've left the EU? He'll definitely want to increase the size of his majority, so he can get on with doing the things he wants to do.

So, whether a no-confidence vote is successful or not, it looks mightily like we'll have an election in the next 6-8 months. Better make sure you're strapped in.

All of which is far in the distance. Over the top of this ride. This week, it's all a bit more mundane. Getting things through that need to be got through. Nothing particularly controversial, nothing particularly interesting. Theresa May gently and efficiently doing what she feels needs to be done.

Except. And there's always an except. Dominic Grieve is having one more go at putting down an amendment to the Northern Ireland legislation that's going through Parliament to delay NI elections. It has already been amended to include abortion and same-sex marriage rights. But that's not what Grieve is focused on. He's focused on changing it so it includes a clause that would stop Johnson from suspending Parliament.

His attempt to make the change in the Commons failed. There is another opportunity, though.  The same Bill is in the Lords this week, and they love a bit of Remain in the Lords. Love it. Grieve will be hoping that they vote for the amendment. Which means MPs would have to debate it when it comes back to them on Thursday. If the Lords do what Grieve wants them to, we could be looking at another tight vote around Thursday lunchtime.

The Week Ahead. 


Monday -  An interesting Bill to kick off the week for MPs. It's all about HS2, the high-speed line being built, or more specifically to link it to the West Coast Mainline. What's interesting about it is that this is the last week before we get a new Prime Minister. Now, both candidates have said they don't want to scrap it  - for now - but want to have a good look at what's going on when in post. But with this measure having passed the Commons, it will be increasingly hard to bin off the project.

The Lords are looking at the Northern Ireland Bill that just got through the Commons, with amendments intact on abortion and equal marriage.  I have it on good authority that Dominic Grieve is hoping his amendment to stop Johnson (or, in theory, Hunt) from suspending Parliament will be inserted in the Bill here. That would mean that MPs would have to debate the measure when it comes back.

Monday always sees a petition being debated by MPs in Westminster Hall (the Court Number One to the Common's Centre Court). Today there are three being debated together. The common theme is the BBC. They call for the abolition of the licence fee, giving over 75s their free licences back and an inquiry into bias at the BBC.  

Tuesday - We've got a debate on a new Bill today, well, new to the MPs. It's come from the Lords. It's about paving the way to do more courts and tribunal stuff online.  Not terribly controversial.  

That's followed by a general debate about early years family support.


Wednesday -  PMQs last week saw the greatest hits of Conservative v Labour last week. Corbyn called May cruel and blamed her for mistreating the poor. May said Corbyn is economically illiterate and would crash the economy. Also, because it's 2019, there were accusations of antisemitism and Islamophobia. Will we get anything more meaningful this week? I doubt it.

The main business of today is debating the Gemma White Report which examines bullying and harassment of MPs’ Parliamentary Staff. When I worked at Parliament, I saw it. Everyone I know who has worked at Parliament has seen it.  Let's hope that this report sees real change.

The Lords are looking at both the Bill to stop wild animals being used in circuses and finishing off their time with the Northern Ireland BIll.

Thursday-  This could be the big day of the week. Why? Because amendments made to the Northern Ireland thing yesterday in the Lords are back in teh Commons. That could well include the Grieve amendment which would prevent Johnson from suspending Parliament.

There are then debates on the persecution of Christians overseas and NHS spending on 'non-invasive precision therapies' which is a form of cancer treatment.

Friday -  No MPs today, but the House of Lords are debating Private Members Bills. At this stage in the Parliamentary year, it's very unlikely they will get anywhere meaningful.
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