Today, Theresa May is in America with Donald Trump. Opposites attract, she says. She's pretty keen on a trade deal, but many in the UK are worried that America will want to export its chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef, both of which are currently illegal in the UK due to EU regulations. It's one of these questions at the heart of the post Brexit world. Are we happy to open up the market? Give consumers the choice and increase export options? Or do we want to keep the regulations and maintain current food standards?
All of which leads us onto the main topic of debate, at least in the Commons next week. The Brexit Bill. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled that Parliament needed to pass a law before Theresa May can trigger Article 50. MPs have 2 days on Tuesday and Wednesday to debate the idea. They'll then vote on Wednesday evening (at 7ish). That's the vote that Jeremy Corbyn has decided is to be a three line whip for the Labour Party. That's explained below. It's lead to Tullip Siddiq stepping down from the front bench and other MPs looking at voting against the party. The initial vote will almost certainly pass.
The real drama will be in following week. There will be 3 days (6th-8th Feb) when MPs can try to add amendments, from 'stay in the Single Market' to 'Scotland have to have a vote' to 'PM must report progress back to Parliament regularly'. It will take a monumental effort to get any of these onto the Bill.
Happy Chinese New Year!
Our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week...
European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill
Here it is - the Bill that, if passed, will mean the UK will leave the European Union. The Government was forced to draw this up after the Supreme Court ruled that Parliament had to vote on Brexit. The Bill itself is very short and gives the Prime Minister power to invoke Article 50. The debate on Tuesday & Wednesday is expected to be lengthy, and the following week loads of amendments are expected to tabled.
This will reform private pensions, to ensure that multi-employer schemes are properly regulated and caps early exit fees, which penalise those who access them early.. It creates two new bodies for money advice, one for pensions guidance and another for general financial guidance. This Bill has just winged its way to the Commons from the Lords.
This will bring in a ‘universal service obligation’ for internet access. So every person would have the legal right to broadband which is at least 10Mbps, in the same way people have the right to a phone line and postal services. Most MPs are supportive of this but implementing it is more difficult in rural and hard to reach areas.
There will also be more age verification for websites that show pornographic images.