Maitland Political Monitor – 16 April 2018
Parliament returns from recess today with Theresa May due to address MPs on the bombing of Syria this afternoon. “We have acted because it is in our national interest to do so,” May will say. As she’s expected to come up against a flurry of questions from MPs, she’s also set to ask for an emergency debate to give MPs more time to discuss Saturday’s air strikes.
However, the real question this morning is whether a vote will be held in parliament on the decision to take military action. While both Labour and the SNP are hoping to force a vote, all eyes will be on the government to possibly table its own “retrospective” vote over the next 48 hours. The Times reports that several ministers have been called back from foreign trips or had planned missions cancelled as whips move to secure the numbers they need to win the day. Chief Whip Julian Smith has reportedly issued a three-line whip for Tuesday.
After a relatively quiet couple of weeks on the Brexit front, MPs and peers are limbering up to get back into the swing of things. The House of Lords will be voting on the EU Withdrawal Bill over the coming weeks with ministers already braced for defeats as early as this Wednesday on key amendments including a cross-bench effort to keep Britain inside the customs union. Another space to watch will be Labour’s bid to give parliament the power to send Theresa May back to the negotiating table if it is unhappy with her Brexit deal. Any successful amendments will return to the Commons for further votes this summer. Meanwhile, the Institute for Government reports today that the big vote on the final Brexit deal will anyway be more than a simple yes-or-no choice, as MPs would have the chance to table amendments demanding a rethink or requesting an extension of the Brexit transition period.
- The Conservatives have put their MPs on a three line whip for Tuesday afternoon. Theresa May is expected to take an hour of questions on Syria after her statement this afternoon. Corbyn has condemned the government’s action calling for diplomacy, not bombing.
- The Institute for Government published a report that explores Parliament’s ‘meaningful vote’ on the Brexit deal. It argues the choice for MPs will not be a stark ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
- The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi arrives for an official visit today.
Diplomacy, and not bombing, is the way to end Syria’s agony—The Guardian, Jeremy Corbyn
The Labour leader calls for negotiations for a political settlement to be put centre stage, warning that Britain could “slip into a new cycle of military reaction and counter-reaction.” Corbyn weighs up the human costs of the Syrian conflict thus far—over 500,000 lives lost, 5 million refugees forced to flee and 6 million left internally displaced—and denies that protracted external military intervention has helped alleviate it at all. He calls Saturday’s strikes on sites thought to be linked to Syria’s chemical weapons capability “wrong and misconceived”, claiming “it was either purely symbolic – a demolition of what appear to be empty buildings, already shown to be entirely ineffective as a deterrent – or it was the precursor to wider military action.” Corbyn also questions the legality of the strikes, saying the US and British governments acted unilaterally without UN authority in the name of humanitarian intervention. “We have to remove the scourge of chemical weapons but also use our influence to end the still greater scourge of the Syrian war,” he writes, “A diplomatic solution that will allow for the country to be rebuilt, for refugees to be able to return home and for an inclusive political settlement that allows the Syrian people to decide their own future could not be more urgent.”
- Prince William attends the Welcome to the UK reception as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) gets underway in London.
- Boris Johnson attends the EU Foreign Affairs Council.
- 9am Institute for Government hosts a discussion on a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal with Dominic Grieve, Baroness Smith, and the FT’s George Parker.
- 1pm Osaia Voreqe Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji, speaks at a Chatham House event.
- 5.30pm Stop the Rush to War: Don’t Bomb Syria protest held outside parliament.
- 2.30pm Home office questions
- Theresa May makes a statement on Syria
- Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [Lords] – 2nd reading
- General debate on housing
- Adjournment: Effect of cyber-bullying on young people’s mental health (Alex Chalk)
- 4.30pm Debate on e-petitions relating to Myanmar’s Rohingya minority (Helen Jones)
- 2.30pm Questions on conflicts in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Punjab and other territories; public alert technology on mobile phones in event of a terrorist incident; benefit to the UK in participation of world trade; and EU withdrawal and the implications for business of a short transition.
- Employment Rights Act 1996 (Itemised Pay Statement) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2018 – Motion to approve
- Companies (Disclosure of Address) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 – Motion to approve
- Welsh Ministers (Transfer of Functions) (Railways) Order 2018 – Motion to approve
- Motion: To move that this House approves, for the purposes of Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993, HM Government’s assessment of the medium term economic and fiscal position as set out in the latest Budget document and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s most recent Economic and Fiscal Outlook and Fiscal Sustainability Report, which forms the basis of the United Kingdom’s Convergence Programme.
- Short debate: Developing a sustainable lifelong learning culture in England.