Maitland Political Monitor – 16 May 2018

16th May 2018

Good morning,

Jeremy Corbyn looks as if he will try to force the release of a series of internal Brexit subcommittee papers, tabling a “humble address” motion demanding publication of all “papers, presentations and economic analyses” on the government’s two proposed customs models. Labour successfully used this arcane procedure to obtain sensitive Whitehall documents on several occasions since the election, with May’s minority government repeatedly forced to give way. The government could plausibly block the publication of customs documents by issuing Conservative MPs with a three-line whip to fight down the motion. However, we’ll have to wait and see if May will fight today’s motion or simply give way again. A vote is due at around 7 pm today.

The Times reports that Attorney General Jeremy Wright has been asked to provide an urgent opinion on the legality of the government’s two customs proposals, before the Cabinet makes its final decision. “There are potential legal problems with both plans as they stand,” a source tells the paper. The paper adds that David Davis has warned Theresa May he fears a legal challenge further down the line if her favoured “new customs partnership” is chosen.

In the Lords, the EU Withdrawal Bill is back for its third reading in the upper chamber today and the peers look as if they will deliver one final government defeat. Peers will debate a cross-party amendment backed by former Conservative Cabinet Minister John Selwyn Gummer (now Lord Deben) which aims to ensure the EU’s “environmental principles” remain part of UK law after Brexit. If passed, it would be the 15th defeat for Theresa May on the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Meanwhile, North Korea has released a blistering statement attacking Donald Trump’s new National Security Adviser John Bolton and threatening to pull out of next month’s historic peace summit with the US. A statement from Pyongyang’s foreign ministry accused the White House of trying to force “unilateral disarmament” upon North Korea as it did upon Iraq and Libya, and threatened to walk away from discussions unless there is a change of approach.

Must Read

  • Labour will stage a “Commons ambush” in a bid to force the Government to publish secret papers on its plans for a customs deal.
  • MSPs voted 93-30 not to give legislative consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill. The Scottish government continue to accuse the Conservatives of a “power grab”.
  • Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has admitted Windrush errors may have led to at least 63 wrongful deportations.
  • In what has been seen as a signal of leadership hopes, Michael Gove warned his party that it needed to move on from Margaret Thatcher and find new economic arguments, and new ways to attack Corbyn, in order to win over the young.

You can shake up politics without a new party – The Times, Daniel Finkelstein

Daniel Finkelstein argues that the prospect of a centre party, the Gang of Four route, still looks a distant one. He explores alternatives for Labour and Conservative moderates drawing on the UK’s rich political history. He includes examples of politicians who shook the system including: resignation – Boyle, defiance – Dick Taverne, dissent – Jim Callaghan, splitting – Joe Chamberlain or the “maverick assault” of James Goldsmith. He concludes: “If none of this appeals, there’s always another way to create a centre party. There’s the opportunity to drum up a whole load of people and get them to flood a party and change its nature. It wouldn’t take many. The Conservative Party doesn’t have many members right now. Let’s call this the Corbyn approach.”

On Manoeuvres

  • Theresa May travels to Sofia to represent the UK at an EU informal dinner.
  • Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, and Greg Clark, the business secretary, chair the inaugural meeting of the new UK Life Sciences Council in Downing Street.
  • Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, addresses commemorative event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Dambuster raids.
  • John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, speaks at the POA conference.
  • Carillion board “shysters” were at fault for the company’s collapse, according to the work and pensions committee.
  • 10.00am Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Lib Dems, launches his party’s campaign in the Lewisham East by-election with candidate Lucy Salek.
  • 10.45am Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary, gives evidence to the European Scrutiny committee on Brexit.
  • 6.00pm Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, speaks at Chatham House.
  • 7.00pm Lord Kinnock, Chuka Umunna, and Alison McGovern attend a rally by Labour Campaign for the Single Market.
  • 7.00pm Justine Greening, the former education secretary, gives a speech on social mobility to the Bright Blue think tank.

Westminster Bubble

House of Commons

  • 11.30am Cabinet Office questions.
  • Midday Prime Minister’s Questions
  • Ten-Minute Rule Motion: Banking (Cash Machine Charges and Financial Inclusion) (Ged Killen)
  • Opposition Day Debates: Grenfell Tower and Brexit (Jeremy Corbyn)
  • Adjournment: Funding fire safety cladding at Heysmoor Heights in Liverpool (Louise Ellman)

House of Lords

  • 3.00pm Questions on assisting financially with the historic back pay liability of providers of commissioned care for people with learning difficulties; introducing a national autism and education strategy; improving the assessment of immigration applications by UK Visas and Immigration; and advice to British companies about the possible impact on their trade with the US after imposition of US sanctions on Iran.
  • European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – third reading
  • Short debate: Strategies the government have considered to alleviate the workload demands faced by social workers

Top Twittery

Esther Webber@estwebber
when the editor asks where I’m up to with my feature

Govt sources say EU Withdrawal bill “likely” to be back in Commons next month