The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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Dear reader,

Surprise! It's Simple Politics email on a Monday! 

These days are complicated and uncertain times. There is so much going on and so much to keep up with that I thought I'd drop you a special Monday email.  Hopefully to help clarify what's going on. Don't worry, I won't make a habit of it.

So let's get a few apologies out the way. Apologies for unexpectedly appearing in your inbox (does this make me spam?). Apologies that there are now far too many 'buttons' in the email.  Apologies that I can't make all this go away and email to say that the sun is out and we're all going to the beach.

Lovely reader, I hope you find this useful. 

I'll be back here on Friday - chat then.


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What's going on?

Slightly Dull Saturday

This is an apologetic email, but the biggest apology needs to come right here. I promised you and exciting, engaging and compelling debate. What we got was a strangely off-form Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition wasn't quite hitting the notes either.  Once those big speeches were out the way, MPs took it in turns to repeat the same things they've been saying every day for the last three years. After a bit of watching, I went for a spot of lunch. 

That Letwin thing

Another thing that took the heat out of the day was that it looked increasingly clear that the Letwin amendment would pass. That means a change to the vote that was put forward by Brexiteer Oliver Letwin. What did it say? It said that Parliament couldn't give it's approval to a deal until it has been properly scrutinised, so that consent wouldn't be given today.  

With no approval that day, Boris Johnson was forced to send that letter to the EU asking for an extension. He did so in a very Johnson way. He sent an unsigned photocopy of that letter, a note saying he didn't want to send that letter and a letter (which he did sign) explaining why he thinks the extension is a bad thing.

The EU's initial response was to say 'we've received the extension request'. No mention of the other letters.  At this point it is not clear what kind of extension might be given.

The key assumption - and certainly one made by Letwin himself - is that as soon as this deal is scrutinised and passed by both Houses of Parliament, we can leave. We wouldn't need to see out the whole time until, say, January 31st. We may even be able to leave by October 31s (although that is unlikely) Letwin himself is going to vote in favour of Johnson's deal.

Today's (possible) vote

Johnson wants another go at the Big Vote. Winning this would give him a mandate to speed everything through Parliament. It mostly looks like he's got enough votes to win. Mostly. It's all very tight, but various people who are much cleverer than I have done magical number things and come up with a win for the PM.

However, the Speaker might say no, he can't have the vote. That would be because he had the same motion up in front of MPs on Slightly Dull Saturday. Sure it didn't quite get to the vote, but that was Mr Johnson's choice. That means it still counts as putting the question or counts enough to put the ball in Bercow's court. We'll find out later today what the decision is.

The rest of the week

It seems very likely, from here, that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill will eb pushed through the Commons on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Theresa May gave 5 days of debate (I seem to remember) for just the Second Reading bit. The general debate at the start. This time it's three days all in. Day by day breakdown below. 

At some point, we'll presumably have the decision on the extension. As there are 10 days from now until we are currently due to leave, you'd hope we'll know sooner rather than later, but it's the EU. You can't ask a tortoise to eat up, we're going to miss the show. 

Is no deal still possible?

Very much so. If the EU choose not to give us an extension, and the Withdrawal Agreement Act doesn't go through in the 6 or 7 days of Parliament we have left, we leave on 31st October with no deal. This is a very real possibility. There are some who think all of this absurdity is a tactic from the PM to do just that. I'm not sure that's the case, but we know for sure that the one objective is to take us out by the end of the month. With or without a deal. And he can now claim that the reason we leave with no dela is because Parliament are rotters.

The Week Ahead. 

I said on Friday I wasn't sure what would happen this week. Here is an updated version of what might happen. I'm still not convinced it will play out like this, but we'll see. 

Monday: The PM wants an approval vote for his deal. The Speaker might stop this as MPs can't be asked the same question twice. It looks like it may pass, it may not.

Tuesday: The process of making a the Withdrawal Agreement will kick off today in the Commons. A general debate, with a vote at the end. No amendments / changes.

Wednesday: We could be at 'Committee'. This is where changes can come in. We'll see lots of these including one for a second referendum. Not many / any will pass.

Thursday: If the PM is really pushing, it will be both the final stages today. More changes can be made (but if they didn't pass yesterday, they probs won't today).

Friday: Parliament isn't scheduled to sit today, but the PM could try to change that.

Saturday: Something I do know! For definite! Woop!  The kids show I do with Comedy Club 4 KIds comes to the Birmingham Rep at 2.30pm. It's so so good. Full of joy, laughter and voting. Also, cat jokes. Come if you can.

Next week: If MPs passed the WA Bill it'll move to the Lords. It's going to struggle there because it's a remainer House, and the Johnson can't force the timetable.

What about an election? A 28th November election is now v unlikely. That would have to be agreed this week and they're quite busy with other stuff. 

If we waited till after October 31st (to see where we're at by that point), the earliest is 12th December, but a Christmas election is also unlikely. My prediction? A vote in the Spring.

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