Parliament was prorogued again this week, finally bringing an end to the longest session of parliament since the Civil War. The prorogation will allow Boris Johnson to bring forward a Queen’s Speech that will set out his government’s priorities for the next parliamentary session.
Whilst a Brexit deal remains unlikely, there were some positive noises from the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar, this week after he met Boris Johnson in Liverpool to discuss a way forward in the Brexit negotiations.
The European Election campaign we were never supposed to have kicked off in earnest this week, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats publishing their manifestos ahead of the vote next week. There was criticism from some over the crassness of the ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ slogan adopted by the Liberal Democrats, but Stephen Bush, writing in the New Statesman, argues that the move is a ‘stroke of genius’.
With polling showing a marked dip in support for the Conservative Party, and with little evident movement in the talks between the Conservatives and Labour, Theresa May is under increasing pressure from the Chairman of the 1922 committee, Graham Brady, to name her departure date. She will meet with him, and the rest of the 1922 executive, on Thursday in what promises to be a difficult meeting for the Prime Minister.
This is now officially the longest sitting of parliament since the English Civil War and yet there hasn’t been a division in the House of Commons for over a month, illustrating the extent to which the government is in office but not in power. As Theresa May clings to power, there are a whole host of figures queuing up to replace her. This week’s ‘Brexitcast‘ podcast takes a look at the Tory contenders to replace her.
In global politics…
As the trade war between the US and China continues the BBC analyses who is losing out as a result.
And…there are three excellent podcasts this week from the New York Times’ ‘The Daily’ podcast…
On the stand-off between the Trump Administration and Congress over the Attorney General’s refusal to publish the Mueller Report in full.
On $1 billion of losses revealed by Trump’s tax returns over a decade.
On the Trump administration’s stand-off with Iran over their nuclear programme.
Jeremy Corbyn won over the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) this week after they agreed the following order of priority when it comes to Brexit:
Firstly, get the government to agree to Labour’s alternative Brexit plan
Secondly, trigger a General Election
Thirdly, fight for a 2nd referendum
This row exposed deep divisions in the Labour Party, with many Labour MPs, led by the Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, calling for the party to come out clearly in favour of a second referendum in time to fight in the European elections on Thursday 23rd May. Times columnist, Rachel Sylvester, argues that, by refusing to listen to the overwhelming majority of Labour members, Corbyn has exposed himself as a hypocrite. As Theresa May sets a one week deadline for cross-party talks to reach a conclusion, this may lead things to come to a head early next week.
Extinction Rebellion gained some ground this week, with a declaration from the SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, that there is a ‘climate emergency’. The group also secured a meeting with Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, where they were able to discuss their demands. Writing in The Guardian this week, Ed Miliband, Caroline Lucas and Laura Sandys called for a green new deal, echoing voices in the US Democratic Primary, who are also calling for bold policy in this area.
A “constitutional outrage”?
Despite the fact that Theresa May’s legislative agenda has stalled, Number 10 signalled that the government will not be proroguing parliament In order to bring forward a Queen’s Speech. This typically happens yearly, but there hasn’t been one for almost two years as this session of parliament was designed to get all of the Brexit legislation through in one session. Labour MP Chris Bryant described this decision as a “constitutional outrage”, because the Queen’s Speech is designed to ensure that the government has a majority in the House to pass its programme – something Theresa May is keen to avoid! There have only been 5 years since 1900 where there hasn’t been a Queen’s speech, so this is certainly an unusual situation.
In Political Thinking this week, Nick Robinson talks to Tony Blair’s former Communications Director and prominent People’s Vote campaigner, Alastair Campbell. Meanwhile, the Times Red Box podcast previews Thursday’s local elections with leading pollsters.