It has been a mad old week in politics. For the first time in what feels like forever, the news was not completely dominated by Brexit.
The story that managed to achieve the unthinkable feat of pushing the UK’s imminent EU exit off the top of the news agenda? The dramatic resignation of seven Labour MPs – followed by Enfield North MP Joan Ryan the next day – to form ‘The Independent Group’ (TIG) in parliament.
Then, just when it looked like things couldn’t get any more extraordinary, three Tories announced they were leaving the Conservative benches to join them.
All in all, 12 MPs resigned from their respective parties in the space of just four days (though the freshest quitter – Labour’s Ian Austin – said he had no plans to join TIG).
Amid all this chaos, it might be fair to assume some people have dropped the ball on Brexit news over the last week.
But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. As MPs look ahead to another big week in parliament starting on Monday, here’s everything you have missed in Brexit over the past few days – and what you need to look out for next week.
What’s Been Going On…
While MPs resigned left, right and centre in Westminster, Theresa May was in Brussels attempting to renegotiate the controversial Irish backstop agreement with the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker.
MPs voted to replace May’s backstop clause – meant to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland – with “alternative arrangements”, over fears it could see the UK trapped in the EU customs union and unable to strike other free trade deals.
“We have agreed that work to find a solution will continue at pace, time is of the essence and it is in both our interests that when the UK leaves the EU it does so in an orderly way,” May told the BBC on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the EU dubbed the talks constructive, but said the timings were “tight”.
Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay also met Juncker this week. He will return to Brussels with attorney general Geoffrey Cox to discuss the backstop with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, next week.
What You Need To Know For Next Week…
Things are set to kick off with Theresa May meeting European leaders in Sharm-el-Sheik for a two-day EU-League of Arab States summit.
It has been reported that the prime minister will use the two-day summit in Egypt for a series of one-on-one meetings, including with German chancellor Angela Merkel and Irish premier Leo Varadkar.
Downing Street said on Friday that the PM would also have a bilateral meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk on Sunday, adding that she had already spoken to Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez by telephone on Thursday night regarding Brexit.
The other big moment of the week will be when MPs vote on Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s amendment to take no-deal off the table on Wednesday.
As the Brexit clock runs down at an alarming rate (there are just 35 days until the UK is set to leave the EU), more and more politicians are reportedly being seduced by the proposal to force May to extend Article 50 to stop the country crashing out of the European Union on March 29.
According to the Guardian, as many as 25 members of government are ready to vote for the Brexit delay unless May rules out no-deal. It would be the biggest cabinet revolt of the PM’s leadership, with “at least” four members of May’s top team said to be ready to rebel.
But as HuffPost UK’s political editor Paul Waugh revealed in today’s Waugh Zone, the prime minister could take the wind out of their sails by bringing back a second meaningful vote on her Brexit deal before the debate on Cooper’s amendment.
Yikes. Buckle in folks – it’s set to be *another* bumpy week in Westminster.