Countdown to Brexit: 32 days – The week ahead in Parliament as the clock ticks down

Amid resignations from both Labour and the Conservative MPs, The Prime Minister said, yesterday, that she will not bring a Meaningful Vote back to the House of Commons this week - but that such a vote will take place before 12 March.

She will instead make a statement on Tuesday and table an "amendable motion" relating to her statement.  There will be a debate on that motion on the Wednesday.  MPs will have the chance to amend the motion - and we anticipate a series of votes at the end of the debate.

This week in Parliament

Monday 25 February.  Brexit business begins with consideration of two Statutory Instruments (SIs) relating to EU withdrawal - one on Financial Services; and one on the regulations for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals, commonly known as REACH.

These SIs aim to address deficiencies in domestic law that might arise as a result of the UK leaving the EU.  The Government originally indicated that there could be about 600 such SIs needed before exit day.

Tuesday 26 February.  The Prime Minister will make a statement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and table an amendable motion.  We expect the statement to shortly after 12.30pm.  Tabling an ‘amendable motion’ means the Government provides a form of words as a basis for a debate - and other MPs can put forward an alternative form of words.

The wording of the motion and the text of any proposed amendments are not yet known.  

One amendment in the name of Yvette Cooper, MP, would enable the House of Commons to take control of the Brexit process if the Government does not secure a deal by a particular date.

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The Scottish Affairs Committee will take evidence on the future of Scottish agriculture post-Brexit.

Wednesday 27 February.  The text of the amendable motion and any proposed amendments should be available on the day’s Order Paper.  The debate is expected to start shortly after 1pm.

Several Committees will be looking at issues relevant to Brexit:

The Procedure Committee will question: Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC MP; the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom MP; Clerk of the House of Commons, Sir David Natzler; Clerk of the Journals, Mark Hutton.  The Committee inquiry is into the powers of the House of the Commons to call for papers - after the Attorney General’s refusal led to the Government being found in contempt of the House.

The Home Affairs Committee will be taking evidence from the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, about the work and responsibilities of the Home Secretary.

The International Trade Committee will take evidence on UK Investment Policy

The Environmental Audit and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committees will hold a joint inquiry into the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill.

The European Scrutiny Committee will be take evidence on UK Exit from the EU from three legal experts: Sir Stephen Laws, Professor Richard Ekins and Professor Alison Young.

The Foreign Affairs Committee will take evidence on Global Britain and the future of UK sanctions policy - exploring options for the UK’s approach to sanctions policy after it has left the EU.

Thursday 28 February.  The Commons will put questions to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

And in case you missed – some of the headlines from last week:

  • European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said that: “Brexit is now in God’s hands”;

  • European Central Bank voiced concerns about: “an increasing impact of trade protections, and an escalation of trade conflicts, on the global outlook over time” – just in time for Brexit;

  • Eight Labour and three Conservative MPs quit their respective political parties to form a new ‘Independent Group’ in Parliament;

  • EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said he was still waiting for a “concrete proposal” from the UK - and that he is increasingly worried about an “accidental” no-deal Brexit.  He met with Stephen Barclay MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and Geoffrey Cox MP, Attorney General on Thursday.

  • The FT reported one senior EU diplomat as saying that there had been an: “evaporation of trust” with Britain - and that Mrs Theresa May was “not even close” to a realistic negotiating position;

  • The number of EU migrant workers in the UK fell by 61,000 in Q4 2018;

  • The number of unfilled job vacancies in the UK hit a record high in December - a further sign of a tightening labour market;

  • UK has been put on “negative watch” according to ratings agency Fitch – an indication that it will cut the country’s credit rating in the event of a no-deal Brexit;

  • Ireland published a package of emergency laws to help it respond to a no-deal Brexit;

  • A no-deal Brexit risks queues at London’s St Pancras International for the 15,000 passengers per day using Eurostar train services - according to a UK government report.  The European Commission responded with a “strictly time-limited” solution allowing 3 months to sort out licensing issues.

References

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John ShuttleworthComment