Maitland Political Monitor – 7 December 2017
Good morning,The final EU Council summit of 2017 is one week away and Theresa May has been urgently brokering what she can on the Irish border. Yesterday she spoke with both Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and DUP leader, Arlene Foster. Varadkar has announced he expects a new, formal, written offer today while No.10 aides refuse to rule out May heading to Brussels today or tomorrow. Transport Secretary, and Brexit advocate, Chris Grayling was sent out to do the morning media rounds for the government, where he suggested the current standstill might be solved with regulatory equivalence rather than alignment or divergence. Yet the DUP have said they could stall any deal, with the Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn quoting a ‘senior DUP figure’ declaring: “We won’t be bounced into anything…we’re going to slow it all down. This is a battle of who blinks first – and we’ve cut off our eyelids”.
Yesterday both David Davis and Philip Hammond gave evidence to Select Committees. Davis faced criticism after telling the Brexit Select Committee that, despite earlier statements suggesting otherwise, the government had carried out no impact assessments as they would have “near zero” usefulness given the chances likely to result from Britain’s departure. Hammond again found himself falling foul of the Prime Minister after he told the Treasury Committee that it was “inconceivable” the UK would not pay a financial settlement to the EU, regardless of any trade deal struck. A spokesperson for the PM swiftly clarified that any payment was “dependent on us forgoing (a) deep and special future relationship with the EU”.
Wednesday was also the fifth day of debate by MPs on the Committee Stage for the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. The government won all four votes, including attempts by Labour which would have required a vote in the Commons to approve any financial settlement to the EU and one by the SNP that would have extended the powers of devolved government ministers to amend any directly applicable EU law newly incorporated into UK law.
- Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will set out his vision for foreign policy after Brexit today in a speech highlighting the importance of British willingness to engage in the Middle East.
- Conservative rebels will demand next week that Parliament be given the power to delay Brexit in return for their support on the government’s withdrawal bill.
- Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier has told member states that the British government has 48 hours to agree a text on a potential deal or negotiations will not move on to the next stage.
- Amber Rudd, home secretary, attends EU justice and home affairs council in Brussels.
- David Gauke, work and pensions secretary, gives a speech at the London School of Economics.
- John Glen, culture minister, will announce the winner of the UK City of Culture competition 2021.
- Lords EU committee publishes its report on ‘Brexit: deal or no deal’.
- 8am: Sir Vince Cable, Lib Dem leader, attends launch of the Lib Dem business and enterprise network.
- 8:30am: Liz Truss, chief secretary to the Treasury, leads roundtable discussion on public service efficiency through digital innovation at the Reform think tank.
- 11am: Boris Johnson, foreign secretary, makes a speech on the fight against global terror.
- Noon: Dominic Raab, justice minister, makes a speech on improving the UK’s competitiveness after Brexit at the Policy Exchange think tank.
- Noon: Nicola Sturgeon takes first minister’s questions in Holyrood.
- 2pm: Philip Hammond, chancellor, hosts the annual 11 Downing Street Christmas Party in conjunction with Starlight, the children’s charity.
- 7pm: Brandon Lewis, the immigration minister, at the Welsh CBI in Cardiff.
- 9:30am: Environment, food and rural affairs questions
- 10:10am: Oral questions from Church Commissioners, House of Commons Commission, Public Accounts Commission and Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission.
- Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House, delivers a statement on forthcoming Commons business.
- Backbench business debate on prison reform and safety (Robert Neil)
- Backbench business debate on UK fishing industry (Sheryll Murray)
- Adjournment debate on financial inclusion and the single financial guidance body.
- 1:30pm: Debate on the Women and Equalities Committee report on women in the House of Commons after the 2020 election (Maria Miller)
- 10:45am: Brexit: Simon York, Director of the fraud investigation service at, HM Revenue and Customs, and Stephen Martin, Head of Crime Operations, Police Service Northern Ireland on The progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal.
- 11am: Oral questions on: emergency housing to help those who have been made unintentionally homeless; supporting the care sector; youth orchestras in the UK; government red lines in Brexit negotiations.
- Debates on: Ensuring regulation is balanced, cost-effective, easy to understand and properly enforced (Baroness Neville-Rolfe)-
- The situation in Zimbabwe and Government plans to facilitate the recovery of that country – (Lord Luce)
- Improving the natural environment and animal welfare (The Earl of Caithness)
- Anti-Islamist terrorist strategy (Lord Pearson of Rannoch)