The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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Parliament as a distraction

I love Parliament. I know it's flawed. And archaic. And falling down. But, I love it. At it's best, it can be the home to brilliant debate, forensic scrutiny and the opportunity for some wonderful, heartfelt speeches.  Really. It's great.

So, it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that the real action next week isn't in Parliament. In fact, Parliament is mostly tied up with a series of technical debates (and The Lords arguing about the EU Withdrawal Bill).

What's happening away from Parliament?

Let's start with some narcissism. I'm giving a talk in Shoreditch on Wednesday. It's called 'Positive politics in a divided world' and I've spent the last month writing it and I'm really excited to deliver it. There are still tickets available, so come along if you can.

Then there is the Road to Brexit. These are six speeches to give us all more of an idea what's going on. We've had Johnson, Davis and May. We've still got Fox, Lidington and May. The exact times haven't been revealed, but I'd imagine we'll get at least Fox and Lidington next week.

Finally, and possibly the biggest story of the week, is Jeremy Corbyn making a speech on the (or 'a') Customs Union. This is potentially huge, because Chukka Ummuna and Anne Soubry have just put down an amendment to the Trade Bill, calling for us to stay in. If the Labour Party were to support that amendment along with a handful of Conservative rebels, it is likely that the government will be defeated and the law would state we have to stay in the Customs Union. This is Brexit, though, and it has often been very hard to predict.

Sunday - No word yet from the Marr team about who they'll be interviewing, but Nigel Dodds will be blaming Sinn Fein for the breakdown of talks in Northern Ireland with Peston. Long-term readers will know I always recommend the Sunday politics shows. Always. And right now, with so many big questions in the air and so much at stake, I think these shows are more vital than ever.

Monday - The Commons have an 'estimates day'. That means that they'll look at government spending on Defence and Brexit. It won't be as exciting as that sounds. Meanwhile, the Lords will continue to argue about Brexit.  

Meanwhile, the big story of the day is to be Jeremy Corbyn's speech. He looks likely to announce that Labour now supports staying in the Customs Union - or at least a Customs Union that is very similar. Why? Largely because - he will say - it's the only way to keep a frictionless border in Northern Ireland and protect the Good Friday Agreement.

Tuesday - MPs are spending another day on estimates. This time looking at homelessness and the Department of Transport. Lords are debating the Space Industry Bill and a new Bill about making it illegal to shine lasers in people's eyes when they're driving.

It's not been announced yet, but I would have thought that Liam Fox's Road to Brexit Speech might be on Tuesday morning, before Parliament sits. They want to get on with the six talks and won't be happy with Corbyn having the Brexit headlines. I might be wrong, but this seems a logical slot to me.

Wednesday - I'm giving in a talk in Shoreditch today. Doors are at 7, it'll start at 7.30 and it'll be all about how we can do politics just a little bit better. It's going to be brilliant. Come.

In much less exciting news, there's PMQs, then MPs debate some very technical bits and pieces. Meanwhile, the Lords' big Brexit fallout continues.

Thursday - More Brexit in the Lords, this time in the form of the Nuclear Safeguards Bill that gets us ready to leave Euratom. The MPs haven't announced one of their debates for today, but they will definitely be having a debate to celebrate St David's Day.

Question Time in Blackpool is looking good... Diane Abbott, Ken Clarke and Nigel Farage are all lined up.

Friday - No business in the Commons or the Lords today. Might be a good slot for David Lidington's Road to Brexit speech on devolution. Might not be, though.

Join us in London!

On Wednesday 28th February, I'll be giving a talk in London: 'Constructive Politics in a Divided World'. It's going to be ace. You should come.
Details / tickets here.
Our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week...
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
It repeals the original Act that took Britain into the EU in 1972, and transfers the laws that came from the EU into British laws. It doesn’t tackle each policy area individually, there will be separate laws for things like immigration, but it sets up the legal framework to make Brexit possible. Expect a lot of debate about this, the devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales aren’t happy about it, and the Bill will transfer power to Ministers after Brexit to amend laws without a vote Parliament.
More details
Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill
This House of Lords Bill aims to make it an offence to shine a laser pen, or any type of laser beam, at any vehicle. Currently it is only an offence to shine a laser at an aircraft, this Bill will widen the offence to include cars, trains, trams, ships and bicycles. It will also increase the penalty and could result in imprisonment for offenders. The second reading involved a debate about the levels of fines that could be imposed and whether air traffic control towers should also be included.
More details
Nuclear Safeguards Bill

When the UK leaves the EU it will also leave Euratom - the European Atomic Energy Community.

This Bill aims to replace the Euratom nuclear safeguards with domestic ones to make sure that the UK’s nuclear energy material is still safe and not being diverted into the arms trade and that the UK nuclear industry will still be able to trade with European countries after Brexit.

More details
Click here for more details and to get your tickets now!
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