28.06.2019

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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Every available option


We now know that both the leadership candidates would, under different circumstances, leave the EU with no deal.  Boris Johnson seems a bit keener on it, but Hunt has said it's an option, too.

Meanwhile, over in Parliament they really don't want that to happen. At all. In fact, not leaving on no deal is the only thing that MPs (and the Lords) have all repeatedly agreed on. They just don't want it to happen.

The trouble is that Parliament aren't really in charge here. It's the government that set the agenda. There have been various attempts for MPs to take control over what happens, but so far they haven't passed...
 

From here to there


Officially no deal is very easily achievable. If we don't vote for a deal, or for another extension (should the EU allow us another extension), then we leave on 31st October on no deal. That's that.

October seems a long way off. But. As we sit here on the edge of a heatwave, planning trips to parks, beaches and lidos, we're only four months away from Haloween. That's not a lot of time to get things sorted. It's worth noting that very little sorting out of anything is going on right now.

No, everything is on hold until we find out that Boris Johnson has won the leadership contest.  The result of that is going to be late July. He's then got to sort out his plan, get people in place and send them off to Brussels to see if they really will go back on their promise not to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement. 

What of Parliamentary scrutiny of what's going on? Well, it's a bit tricky. There can't be very much.  As soon as Mr Johnson accepts the keys to Number 10, Parliament head off on their summer holidays.  They're back for a couple of weeks in September before everything stops again for the Party Conference season.

Three weeks later, Parliament returns.  But by that time it will be October already - weeks away from the deadline.  In short, there might be four or five weeks of hot  House of Commons scrutiny between now and that day. About 20 days.
 

The latest scheme


So, with all of this going on, there are MPs frantically trying to work out a way to take the wheels off the bus that is heading inexorably towards no deal.  Recently, we had a vote about MPs taking over the agenda from Parliament so they could pass a law that would rule out no deal. It didn't pass.

Which brings us to this week. This week there are things called Estimates Days. These are very dull sessions in which MPs are asked to rubber-stamp government spending on different departments. There are seven a year. Two or three departments are done at a time. Nothing interesting ever happens.

Until now. Now, something very interesting might happen. MPs are looking to pass a motion that says that these departments are not allowed to spend any money in the event of a no deal Brexit. No money whatsoever. 

This wouldn't, in fact, stop a no deal Brexit.  Legally, we'd still be sailing off towards that inevitability. But. It would make the whole thing (even more) chaotic. It would be considerably harder for a PM to go ahead with.

This might not be the anti-no deal move that MPs dream of, but with the wind under their wings, it might be the anti-no deal move they get.

There are two estimates days this week. On Monday and Tuesday. Expect some very close votes.
This week we've been having fun on social media with this Brexit plan generator

The Week Ahead. 



Monday -  The main event in Parliament today will be Theresa May's statement. Whenever she represents the country at the EU or the G8 or something like that, she comes back and gives a statement about it all. It's an opportunity for some more general questioning.  As with PMQs, though, while this was once a box office event, less notice will be taken.

After that it's an estimates day in the Commons. Normally that's yawn o'clock and nobody cares. This time round, though, there's a move from MPs to say that if we have a no deal Brexit spending would no longer be allowed for the departments of International Development and Education. Why those ones? They're the ones that happen to be allocated to this, the 6th Estimates Day.   My hunch is that this measure won't quite work, but it is perfectly possible that they get the numbers together.

The Lords are debating the MPs' decision to declare an environment and climate emergency, so that might be worth a look.

Tuesday -  The final annual estimates day in the Commons. If the rebel MPs got the Brexit motion - to stop spending in the event of no deal - through yesterday, they will almost certainly try today for the Department of Work and Pensions as well as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. If it wasn't successful, they might try again, but it is very unlikely that they would gain votes for this overnight. 

Wednesday -  PMQs. Last week just 61 of the 313 Conservative MPs were in the chamber by the end of PMQs. It's a clear sign that interest just isn't there. Instead, it's all focused on the future PM. After that, it's all a bit dull.

Thursday-  Backbench debates on ending the sale of petrol/diesel cars and vans, as well as a debate on how well the laws on assisted dying are currently working.

Friday -  No Parliament today. 

Saturday - my family comedy politics show 'How Does This Politics Thing Work Then?' rolls into the beautiful Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate.  If you're in East Kent, you should come for the venue alone. It's wonderful. The show's pretty great too.

Sunday - Not content with one show this weekend, we're at the Key Theatre in Peterborough. Ticket links for both shows at the end of the email.
Margate Tickets
Peterborough Tickets
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