Maitland Political Monitor – 13 September 2017

13th September 2017

Good morning,

Late last night, the government increased its influence over parliament in dramatic fashion.  A motion allowing the Conservatives to have a majority on crucial legislative committees that partly dictate the Commons agenda was approved by 320 votes to 301, majority 19.

The change will give the Conservative the same amount of influence on parliamentary affairs that they would have if they had one an overall majority at the General Election. The victory will make it that little bit easier for the government to get their Brexit agenda through the House.

Over on the other side of the Palace of Westminster, the Chancellor told the Lords economic affairs committee that he expected the interim period to maintain most tenets of the current status quo, including access to the single market and defacto membership of the customs union, meaning that Britain will continue to pay into the EU budget and obey EU laws.

Away from Brexit, the papers are dominated by debate about the lifting of the public sector pay cap. Yesterday, the government announced a 2% annual pay rise for the police and a 1.7% average pay rise for prison officers.  Although the decision is reported as signalling that there will be more “flexibility” over budgets from next year, Labour have accused government action as being too little, too late. Wise heads in the Conservative party fear that by backing down on the issue of public sector pay the government have shown that opposition can influence policy through strong campaigning in the media.

Must reads


Trade unions have a role to play in Brexit Britain— Editorial, The Financial Times

In the wake of the government decision on Tuesday to scrap the 1% pay cap, the Financial Times writes on the power of trade unions beyond influencing the government to give workers a pay increase. Despite struggling to attract younger members, trade unions retain strong links with Labour and remain a powerful voice in politics. But with Brexit coming, trade unions risk “a return to a more militant attitude of the past, on trade and government intervention in business.”  In the scramble to strike new trade deals in post-Brexit Britain, trade unions could be “could be drawn towards protectionism despite current calls for barrier-free trade with the EU” in the heated debates about the costs and benefits of free trade. “Britain’s unions have an opportunity: their role is likely to become more important after the UK leaves the EU. They should deploy their influence by advocating for worker protections that fit an open economy and by fighting for workers in 21st-century industries that are driving economic growth.”

Lord Bridges: here’s how to Brexit—George Bridges, Reaction

In his first intervention back into the Brexit process since resigning as Brexit minister, the Conservative peer called for bolder action from the government to make progress on Brexit negotiations. First, he writes, the UK should clarify that we would like to agree on the terms of our new relationship with the EU as part of Article 50 and that we should look to begin this new relationship at the end of 2020. “Second, we should be clear that we want to negotiate a bridge – I am obviously keen on bridges – that takes us from March 30 2019 to when that new relationship begins.” Lord Bridges writes that the UK must not agree to a transitional deal that has no end, a “gangplank into thin air, increasing uncertainty and fuelling suspicion that it would be a means to stay in the EU permanently by stealth.” Third, he writes, that the UK must make it clear that we are willing to continue to contribute to the EU during our transitional period, which would help to address the bloc’s concerns about their budget by honouring the UK’s previous commitments to the end of the budgetary period. “Just as the Government will need to make compromises in the negotiations in Europe, so too will people in Britian, who hold passionate views, on both sides of the argument. Future generations will not forgive us if we put dogma before fact, or party before country. At this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, all of us have a part to play.”

On Manoeuvres

  • Theresa May hosts a Jewish new year reception in Downing Street.
  • Philip Hammond, the chancellor, speaks at the UK finance annual dinner at Mansion House.
  • Boris Johnson, foreign secretary, hosts Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, for meetings on North Korea and Libya.
  • Amber Rudd, the home secretary, meets Içisleri Bakanligi, the Turkish interior minister, in Turkey.
  • Sir Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, speaks at the Defence and Security equipment International exhibition.
  • Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, speaks at the UK Rail Summit in London.
  • Rory Stewart, the international development minister, speaks at the all-party parliamentary group on South Sudan.
  • Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, delivers the state of the European Union address in Strasbourg.
  • The government is failing the evaluate the impact of welfare reforms on homelessness, according to the National Audit Office.
  • 9.00am Sir Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, is interviewed on LBC radio.
  • 9.00am Lord Darling, the former chancellor, speaks at the Resolution Foundation on the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Northern Rock bank.
  • 11.30am Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, visits apprentices in Aberdeen.
  • 12.45pm Hilary Benn, chairman of the Brexit committee, addresses APPG on “Brexpats” on the rights of UK and EU citizens after Brexit.
  • 6.00pm Lisa Nandy, the former shadow energy secretary, and James Cleverly, the Conservative MP, speak at the launch of the Next Generation project at Demos, the think tank.
  • 7.00pm Ken Clarke, the former chancellor and Hilary Benn speak on Britain’s political identity crisis at an event organised by the Intelligence Squared think tank.
  • 7.00pm Nicky Morgan, chairwoman of the Treasury select committee, speaks on mental health organised by the Bow Group.

Westminster Bubble

House of Commons 

  • 11.30am Northern Ireland questions
  • Noon Theresa May takes prime minister’s questions
  • Opposition day debates on NHS pay (Jon Ashworth) and tuition fees under the Higher Education Regulations (Angela Rayner)
  • Adjournment debate on employment tribunals (Mike Penning)

Select Committees

  • 8.45am Commons culture, media and sport committee on sports governance: Professor Miguel Poiares Maduro, former chairman of the Fifa governance committee and its independent review committee.
  • 9.30am Commons work and pensions committee on universal credit: council officers and welfare organisation give evidence.
  • 10.00am Lords EU energy and environment on Brexit and energy security: Dr Mina Golshan, deputy chief inspector, office for nuclear regulation and Angela Hepworth, corporate policy and regulation director, EDF energy.
  • 10.00am Lords EU home affairs on Brexit: reciprocal healthcare: Paul Macnaught, director of EU, international and public health systems at the department of health.
  • 10.30am Lords international relations committee on the UK and the Balkans after Brexit: Lirim Greicevci, Kosovan ambassador to the United Kingdom and Qirjako Qirko, Albanian ambassador to the United Kingdom.
  • 10.30am Lords citizenship and civic engagement committee: Mr Muhammad Abdul Bari, former general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain and civic engagement groups.
  • 2.30pm Commons public accounts committee on tackling VAT fraud and error: Steve Dishma, vice-president for taxes at Amazon Europe, Joe Billante, vice-president for EMEA at eBay, and Jon Thompson, chief executive and permanent secretary at HMRC.
  • 3.15pm Commons defence committee on North Korea: international studies experts.

Westminster Hall 

  • 9.30am Autism diagnosis waiting time (Bambos Charalambous)
  • 11.00am Future of RAF Northolt (Gareth Thomas)
  • 2.30pm Barriers for women in standing for parliament (Mims Davies)
  • 4.00pm Corby urgent care centre (Tom Pursglove)
  • 4.30pm Scotland-Malawi relationship (David Linden)

House of Lords 

  • 3.00pm Oral questions on timetable for Brexit negotiations and public availability of documents; the breeding of dogs and cats; unaccompanied child refugees, and child sexual abuse allegations.
  • Financial Guidance and Claims Bill (Committee stage)
  • Orders and regulations: Civil procedure (Amendment) Rules 2017 – motion to regret
  • 10.00am Lords EU home affairs on Brexit: reciprocal healthcare. Paul Macnaught, director of EU, international and public health systems at the department of health.

Top Twittery

Hugo Gye @HugoGye

“A Slovak deserves to have as much fish in his fish fingers as anyone else,” Jean-Claude Juncker tells the European Parliament.