Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week…
Brexit Plan B comes before Parliament this week after days of wrangling over constitutional propriety and the limits of MPs’ power. Ahead of the main event, the Prime Minister’s revised Brexit plans are debated in the House of Lords on Monday.
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Opposition peers warmed up last week by voting to hold up the passage of the Government’s legislation on post-Brexit trade in what will be an unwelcome reminder for Theresa May of the enthusiasm for many in the Lords for inflicting defeat on government business.
After recent fallings out over the pairing arrangement in Parliament, a motion to introduce a pilot system for proxy voting is on the Commons order paper today.
Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom announced the year-long trial in response to a question from former minister Jo Swinson, who fell foul of a pairing arrangement while on maternity leave last year, and the introduction of a parent-friendly voting system for MPs is an important marker for the often archaic Parliamentary procedures.
It’s John Bercow (pictured), again, who may play the most significant role as the Prime Minister’s alternative Brexit plan comes before the House of Commons on Tuesday: the debate and vote will be significantly shaped by whichever of the many different amendments are selected by the Speaker.
MPs across the Brexit spectrum spent last week proposing alternative solutions to the current impasse; among those most likely to succeed, Home Affairs Committee chair Yvette Cooper’s plan to change Parliamentary rules and extend Article 50 enjoys significant cross-party support.
The DUP-friendly time-limited backstop proposed by Northern Ireland Committee chair Andrew Murrison could appeal to Theresa May, while a late entry from a group led by 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady provides an opportunity for a united front on the Conservative benches.
Whatever the result of Tuesday’s vote, the response from Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs on Wednesday is likely to be as closely watched as May’s. Senior figures from the campaign for a second referendum last week admitted that they stood little chance of success without support from the Labour leader, while several of the party’s frontbenchers cautioned the leadership against backing the campaign.
Corbyn appeared to offer some hope to the People’s Voters in his own amendment to May’s motion, though a General Election remains the leader’s preferred method for refighting the Brexit argument on different terms.
Away from the main business, Dominic Raab and Steve Baker, two of the more prominent opponents of the Prime Minister’s deal, appear before select committees to give evidence on different aspects of Brexit.
Raab’s comments on an exit mechanism are likely to come up when former Brexit Secretary Raab is questioned by the Northern Ireland Committee on the Irish backstop, while the European Scrutiny Committee gets the chance to grill Baker on his roles as a Brexit department minister and deputy chair of the European Research Group.
Representatives of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members gather in China for a two-day P5 nuclear format meeting. The talks in Beijing represent what is likely to be the final opportunity for a resolution to the dispute between the US and Russia over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty ahead of the 2 February deadline set by America for Russia to provide evidence of compliance. Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, and top US arms control official Andrea Thompson are due to be present.
House of Commons business for Thursday sees questions to ministers from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as the Attorney General’s Office. Nicola Sturgeon faces her weekly round of First Minister’s Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood and is likely to face questions on the result of Tuesday’s alternative Brexit plan vote in Westminster.
After a meeting in Downing Street with the Prime Minister on 23 January, Sturgeon accused Theresa May of driving the UK “towards a cliff edge” with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, and claimed Whitehall is “running scared” after ruling out a fresh Scottish independence referendum.
On Friday, the Six Nations gets underway in Paris as France host Wales. The tournament is likely to be one of the most hotly contested in recent memory – Ireland are now second in the world rankings following their victory over the All Blacks, a rejuvenated England secured wins over Australia and South Africa to round off 2018, and Wales were undefeated in their last nine games. The tournament runs throughout February and ends on 16 March.
The Premier League continues on Saturday, when Cardiff City play their first home game since the disappearance of their new striker Emiliano Sala. The Argentinian was travelling back from France, where he had been saying goodbye to former teammates at Nantes, when the light aircraft carrying him disappeared over the Channel Islands. The Air Accident Investigation Board is investigating the incident.
Elsewhere, the first round of the Six Nations ends as Scotland take on Italy and defending champions Ireland host England.
Pope Francis arrives in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, becoming the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula. The visit features two days of events including a meeting with the Crown Prince, a mass in Abu Dhabi, and a meeting with members of the Muslim Council of Elders.
The cornerstone of the American sporting calendar also takes place as the New England Patriots meet the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. The game could well create history – a victory for the Patriots would see them become the joint most successful franchise in NFL history, with their legendary quarterback Tom Brady becoming the most successful player of all time in the process.
The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.
Picture: Reuters TV via Reuters