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The House of Commons will sit on Saturday (19/10/19)

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Crunch time – The House of Commons voted to sit from 9.30 am on Saturday 19 October 2019, and MPs will debate the Government’s new Brexit deal.

The House of Commons does not usually sit on a Saturday, the previous occasions were :

  • 2 September 1939: Outbreak of World War II
  • 30 July 1949: Summer adjournment debates, last sitting of the summer
  • 3 November 1956: Suez crisis
  • 3 April 1982: Falkland Islands invasion

Why didn’t they want to do this on Friday 18th ?

MPs approved (with amendment) a Government proposal (called a Business of the House order) on Thursday 17 October to allow this Saturday sitting to happen. The amendment was voted on and agreed by 287 votes in favour with 275 votes against.

In statistical terms, MPs turnout: 86.5%, 51 % of votes cast in favour, 49 % of votes cast against.

Perhaps there should be a 2nd vote !

Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to as follows

That this House shall sit at 9.30am on Saturday 19 October and at that sitting:

(1) the first business shall be any statements to be made by Ministers;

(2) the provisions of Standing Order No. 11 (Friday sittings), with the exception of paragraph (4), shall apply as if that day were a Friday;

(3) paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 16 (Proceedings under an Act or on European Union documents) shall not apply to any motion on that day; and

(4) if an amendment to any motion has been disposed of (including at or after the moment of interruption), any further amendments selected by the Speaker may be moved, and the questions shall be put forthwith.

The business on Saturday will be:

  • Statement by the Prime Minister; other Ministerial Statements (if any)
  • (Motion) Section 1(1)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 and Section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
  • (Motion) Section 1(2)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019

The first motion seeks Parliaments approval to accept the recent deal agreed between representatives of the UK and the EU.

The second motion, presumably if the 1st motion is rejected, seeks Parliaments approval to leave the EU without an agreed deal.

Update 18/1019

Possible Amendments:

  • Amendment (b) (from Angus MacNeil MP) calls for the revocation of Article 50 instead
  • Amendment (c) (from Ian Blackford MP) calls instead for an extension to allow a general election to happen
  • Amendment (a) (from Sir Oliver Letwin MP) withholds approval unless and until implementing legislation has passed.

An article from the House of Commons Library,

Brexit deal: Saturday’s sitting explained

UK proposals for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

The UK Government’s proposal to the EU for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland was presented on 2 October 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-proposals-for-a-new-protocol-on-irelandnorthern-ireland

The Prime Minister wrote to Donald Tusk on 19 August 2019 setting out the UK’s position on the renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement, as well as this government’s desired final destination for a long-term relationship with the EU. Since then, the government has pursued discussions with the European Union on alternatives to the previous Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, the so-called ‘backstop’.

This letter to the President of the European Commission and accompanying explanatory note, sent on 02 October 2019, set out the government’s proposal for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Dear Jean-Claude,

A Fair and Reasonable Compromise: UK Proposals for a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland

There is now very little time in which to negotiate a new Agreement between the UK and the EU under Article 50. We need to get this done before the October European Council.

This Government wants to get a deal, as I am sure we all do. If we cannot reach one, it would represent a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible. Our predecessors have tackled harder problems: we can surely solve this one.

Both sides now need to consider whether there is sufficient willingness to compromise and move beyond existing positions to get us to an agreement in time. We are ready to do that, and this letter sets out what I regard as a reasonable compromise: the broad landing zone in which I believe a deal can begin to take shape.

Our proposed compromise removes the so-called “backstop” in the previous Withdrawal Agreement. I have explained the difficulties with this elsewhere, including the fact that it has been rejected three times by the UK Parliament. Equally importantly in this context, the backstop acted as a bridge to a proposed future relationship with the EU in which the UK would be closely integrated with EU custom arrangements and would align with EU law in many areas. That proposed future relationship is not the goal of the current UK Government. The Government intends that the future relationship should be based on a Free Trade Agreement in which the UK takes control of its own regulatory affairs and trade policy. In these circumstances the proposed “backstop” is a bridge to nowhere, and a new way forward must be found.

Accordingly we are now proposing a new Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. We are delivering the draft legal text of this Protocol to Task Force 50 today. I attach an explanatory note giving further detail of the proposal and I am making this letter and that note public today.

It is based around five elements:

Operation Yellowhammer

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The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has written to Dominic Grieve QC MP and Hilary Benn MP, in response to the Humble Address Motion passed on Monday 9 September 2019. This is related to the request for the Government to release documents and communications associated with the Yellowhammer operation.

Operation Yellowhammer is the codename used by the Government for contingency planning in the event of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement. It is supposed to represent “worst-case” scenarios.

Dominic Grieve’s Humble Address (arcane Parliamentary jargon)

That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to direct Ministers to lay before this House, not later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September, all correspondence and other communications (whether formal or informal, in both written and electronic form, including but not limited to messaging services including WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook messenger, private email accounts both encrypted and unencrypted, text messaging and iMessage and the use of both official and personal mobile phones) to, from or within the present administration, since 23 July 2019 relating to the prorogation of Parliament sent or received by one or more of the following individuals: Hugh Bennett, Simon Burton, Dominic Cummings, Nikki da Costa, Tom Irven, Sir Roy Stone, Christopher James, Lee Cain or Beatrice Timpson; and that Ministers be further directed to lay before this House no later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September all the documents prepared within Her Majesty’s Government since 23 July 2019 relating to operation Yellowhammer and submitted to the Cabinet or a Cabinet Committee.

Michael Gove’s letter to Dominic Grieve

Correspondence with Dominic Grieve QC MP (pdf)

and his letter to Hilary Benn

Correspondence with Hilary Benn MP (pdf)

In addition the document relating to operation Yellohammer was released and is available at

Operation Yellowhammer: HMG Reasonable Worst Case Planning Assumptions

(local copies available)

Getting ready for Brexit campaign

If you think that the UK will ever leave the EU you may want to take a look at a new Government initiative, launched on 1 Sep 2019.

The Government has launched a new public information campaign, “Get Ready for Brexit“, that will be available across TV, Social Media Billboards and other platforms.

Government research shows that only 50% of the population think it’s likely the UK will leave the EU on 31 October, 42% of small-to-medium sized businesses are unsure of how they can get ready and just 31% of the British public have looked for information on how to prepare for Brexit.

The campaign will tackle this head on by setting out what all members of the public and business owners might need to do, if anything, to get ready to leave the EU on 31 October.

Audiences including UK citizens intending to travel to Europe and all exporters to the EU will be targeted, alongside groups requiring particular information such as the equine industry and legal professions.

Some of the key actions audiences need to take include:

  • Acquiring an Economic Operator Registration and Identification number to export to the EU. Businesses that are VAT registered will automatically issued an EORI number, but micro businesses still need to register themselves.
  • Obtaining the correct documents to transport goods at the border.
  • Applying for the vital support packages available for businesses, such as grants.
  • Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said:

    Ensuring an orderly Brexit is not only a matter of national importance, but a shared responsibility.

    This campaign will encourage the country to come together to Get Ready for Brexit on 31 October.

    Advertising accompanied with targeted road shows and events will drive people to GOV.UK, which has a new checker tool so audiences can identify what they need to do to get ready for Brexit quickly.

    https://www.gov.uk/brexit

    https://www.gov.uk/get-ready-brexit-check

    There will be how to videos and step by step guides – so whether you are a small business owner, haulier or EU citizen residing in the UK – the actions you need to take to prepare will be clear and simple.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/get-ready-for-brexit-campaign-launched

    Michael Gove statement to Parliament

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    Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove addressed the House of Commons on 3rd September 2019.

    Transcript:

    Thank you very much Mr Speaker. This is the first time that I have appeared at the dispatch box since I moved on from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the superb team of civil servants at that department who do so much to improve the lives of so many across this country, and with your permission, I will make a statement about preparations for our departure from the European Union.

    More than three years ago, in the biggest exercise in democracy in our country’s history, the British people voted to leave the EU. But so far this Parliament has failed to honour that instruction. Now our Prime Minister has made clear that we must leave by October 31st. And so we must. Trust in this House depends on it. Trust in our democracy depends on it.

    Of course, this Government is determined to secure our departure with a good deal, one that paves the way for a bright future outside the single market and the customs union. And the response the Prime Minister has received from European leaders shows they are ready to move. They want a deal too. And they are moving because the Prime Minister has been clear that matters must be resolved by October 31, if we drift, then the incentive on them to deliver quickly will dissipate. So I hope my colleagues in the House of Commons will give the Prime Minister the time and space he needs to pursue the opening he has secured and get a deal we can all support.

    But of course we must be prepared for every eventuality.

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