19.04.2019

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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Dynamic stretching and vocal warm-ups


Don't you hate it when you've spent a week campaigning, dealing with casework and maybe having a quiet glass of pinot grigio and suddenly you're thrust into the Commons expected to be on top form? I'm shuddering at the thought. Fear not, though, next week's schedule is light. Very light. You can keep your tracksuit top on for this.

Before we discuss this week, let's just have a quick recap of where we are.  
 

Brexit


We've got our extension. We've got until 31st October to get something sorted. The Prime Minister wants us to leave on 22nd May.  For that to happen, the EU Withdrawal Bill needs to pass through the legislative process. That's through both the Commons and the Lords, with various stages and kerfuffle. 

Given that next week doesn't have any WIthdrawal Bill action scheduled, the earliest it could be in the Commons is 29th April.   Now it is possible to pass a Bill super fast. In a couple of days, in fact. But, this one doesn't feel like it's going to be speedy. Don't' forget that the Withdrawal Agreement at the hearty of the Bill hasn't even come close to being backed by a majority of MPs.

I'm going to say it: I can't see any way that this Bill is passed by 22nd May. No way at all. Clearly, I'm not as clued up as the PM and her team. If they think there is a way, maybe there is and it's just too cunning for my little head to comprehend. I'd still bet anyone a Twix that it doesn't happen.  

Which leaves us back with 31st October. Six months or so.  Not really long enough for a second vote. Probably long enough for a General Election, but polling for the Conservatives is pretty terrible right now. Some of those Conservative MPs who might have been a bit more bullish might now quietly agree that it's not the best time. Probably not a GE, then. 

How about a change of leader? There have been many calls for Theresa May to step aside, but, if there is one thing we've learnt about our glorious leader it's that she's not a very resign-y person. Not her vibe. She's massively keen to see Brexit delivered and has promised to then stand down to allow someone else to lead the party into 2022 election.  And if she doesn't step down, there is no mechanism to force her, unless Conservative and/or DUP votes don't back her in a No Confidence vote in the Commons. I don't see that happening. 

In short, there will be no big votes, no big leadership contest and no real change. Probably. This is 2019 and anything could happen.

What is going to change by October, then? There might be some indicative voting where MPs tell the PM what they want.  She may listen. But the Withdrawal Agreement isn't going to be changed. Which means that it's all about the Political Declaration, which isn't legally binding and is a vague hope anyway.

This whole thing is so complex, it's hard to see it all falling into place without one of those big events. 

We know that my predictions aren't necessarily very useful, but for me, the most likely outcome is that when Autumn comes and the leaves are falling, we'll be asking the EU for another extension.
 

Elections


Local

We're just weeks away from the local elections in England and Northern Ireland.  Nearly 9,000 councillors will be elected on 2nd May. 

Where I live there is loads of campaigning going on.  These elections should be fought on local issues.  What are the plans for local services, how will recycling be run. That kind of thing. That's not quite how things work, though. When people see the words Conservative or Labour, they think Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn, not the council leader, or the candidates in their areas. 

This makes reading and understanding results very hard to do. Expect a confusing picture to emerge on 3rd May, with all sides claiming victory.

EU elections

There is a chance that these won't happen. If the Withdrawal Agreement Bill passes by 22nd May. I've already said that this isn't going to happen. The EU elections are going to take place on Thursday 23rd. 

It's quite clear why May doesn't want them. This week several polls have shown that Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is in the lead.  Do you remember who won the last set of EU elections? Yep. Nigel Farage's UKIP.

There will be many people who are extremely irritated that we're taking part in the election. Extremely. Irritated. And irritated people vote differently to contented people. There is also a chance that lots simply won't vote. That's going to hit the Conservative Party hardest, with many of them leaving for the Brexit Party and many not showing up. It's not exclusively a Tory problem, though. Labour will have some leave them for Farage (George Galloway has come out in favour of the Brexit Party) and some of them will also vote with their feet and stay away. Change UK could take some votes from the Labour right and Conservative left, too.

It's going to be an angry and bitter campaign with results that are bruising for the main two parties. 



For now, though, have a wonderful Easter weekend.  I hope it's as sunny where you are as it is here.  

Tatton
 

The Week Ahead. 


Who knows what Brexit plan there will be by Tuesday?  As such, this timetable could change at the last minute.
 

Monday - No Parliament because it's a bank holiday, so enjoy your hot cross buns, the last bits of chocolate and local election campaigning in your area.

Tuesday -  Nothing of interest is planned. Really. Nothing. It is, though, the start of a new Parliamentary term and there will almost certainly be some last minute statements or urgent questions. Keep an eye on our social media for details, probably around midday.  

Wednesday - PMQs will be very focused on local issues today. We're a week and a day away from the local elections and all parties will be looking to show how good they are. Well, except for the SNP and Plaid Cymru. There aren't any elections in Scotland or Wales.  They'll presumably be all about Brexit.

After that, there is a very rare Opposition Day when Labour get to say what is debated. Presumably, they'll go with a local issue, aiming to continue to show that they're the best of all parties.

The Lords are looking at the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill. Details below.

Thursday-  Backbench business in the Commons today, with debates on school funding and on restrictive intervention of children and young people.

What will be interesting is what the government plan to do with next week, as we creep into May. Don't forget we still need to be working out some kind of Brexit plan.  October can come pretty quickly and there is still talk of getting the withdrawal agreement through as a bill by 22nd May.  TIme is, as ever, tight.

The Commons timetable is announced by Andrea Leadsom at 10.30ish each Thursday. This could be the biggest story of the week (TBF, there isn't much competition). 

Friday -  No Parliament today. Three days is quite enough, thank you very much. We've got local elections to campaign for.

Saturday - My family comedy politics show is in Lincoln at the Drill Hall.  It's going to be a lot of fun, so join us if you can!
 
Our pick of the government Bills in Parliament next week.
(This one is in the Lords on Wednesday.  It's the only one this week.)
Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill

This Bill will amend part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which governs the process by which people who do not have the mental capacity to make decisions (such as people with dementia, learning disabilities and/or brain injuries) are taken into care. The Bill aims to reduce the burden on local authorities and make the process of assessing people’s care needs simpler. However, disability charities say this Bill could put people’s human rights at risk by removing a layer of legal protection in the form of independent assessments.

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.
Lincoln tickets
Folkestone tickets
London tickets
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