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1) Defeated By A Clarification
He came, he saw, he backed down. Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve called off his own rebellion against the Government on Wednesday over just how powerful Parliament’s ‘meaningful vote’ should be.
The crux of the matter was would the ministerial statements delivered in the case of ‘no deal’ been amendable by Parliament – something that would give MPs to dictate what the Government should do next.
Just minutes before the debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill took place, Brexit Secretary David Davis issued a clarification that it would be down to the Speaker to decide if motion put before the House was amendable.
But that reads to me that the Speaker can rule if a motion meets the criteria to be unamendable, not that a motion can be changed to be amendable.
The other concession offered by the Government was that parliamentary time would be given to MPs to table motions on Brexit.
While this was not written into law, it was enough for Grieve to back down and fall in line. But just for jokes he still proposed his amendment, although he didn’t vote for it. No wonder David Davis could barely keep the smile of his face.
Labour’s Hilary Benn seemed to best sum up the position which the Commons finds itself in: “If, because the House cannot do anything about it, we fall off the edge of the cliff, and future generations look at us and say: ‘What did you do at that moment? What did you do? Didn’t you say anything?’, are we, as the House of Commons, really going to allow our hands to be bound and say: ‘Well, at least I took note of what was happening’?”
2) What’s The Next Big Non-Rebellion Going To Be On?
In truth, the rebellion was petering out long before Grieve announced he would no longer be taking part in it.
I spoke to one of the potential rebels hours the statement from Davis, and they were clear they would be voting with the Government as “this is not the hill to die on.”
The conclusion they had reached – shared by many others I had spoken to – was you don’t need something in law to enable Parliament to take control in the case of ‘no deal’ as it would just happen anyway.
The next battle will come on the Trade Bill, set to return to the Commons in July. Remain MPs might try to use this to box in May on agreeing a customs union with the EU.
Having twice in the space of a week marched the troops up the hill only to march them down again, does Grieve still have the credibility to lead any kind of rebellion.
3) The Home Office is Going To Need A Lot Of Temps
Away from the seemingly never-ending Parliamentary process of Brexit, and the Home Office has seemed to remember that actual people are going to be affected by these events.
Immigration Minister Caroline Noakes announced on Thursday afternoon EU citizens would have to follow “three easy steps” to get settled status after Brexit.
Applicants will have to prove their identity, show they live in the UK and declare they have no serious criminal convictions. The cost of applying will be £65 for an adult and £32.50 for under 16s.
The simplification of the process will no doubt be welcomed, and while the cost is still a fair whack (a family of four will shell out almost £200) it is cheaper than applying a passport.
The Home Office will be determined not to have a repeat of the Windrush debacle when it comes to processing the potentially 3.7million applications.
Yet with the application window running from March 30 2019 to June 30 2021, civil servants will have to burn through almost 5,000 applications every day to get everyone processed. All eyes will be on the Home Office to see if they’ve got the administrative ability to pull off this huge task.
4) Failure To Prepare For Failure Would Be A Failure No One Is Prepared For
While the UK is trying to get its House in order in the case of ‘no deal’, the EU is also making preparations for the talks breaking down.
Reports leaked to various media outlets this week show leaders of the EU27 will be urged to “step up their work on preparedness at all levels for all outcomes” at the European Council summit planned for June 28 and 29.
The draft document predictably raises concerns about the lack of a backstop for the UK’s Irish border, adding “negotiations can only progress as along as all commitments undertaken so far are respected in full.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid wants the EU27 to start planning for what has been agreed, not just what hasn’t.
After announcing the UK’s plan for processing applications from EU citizens, he said: “I am concerned that I have not seen any similar plans on how EU member states are going to support British nationals in their countries.
“This is not good enough and I hope both the European parliament and commission will exert more pressure for them to do this as soon as possible.”
5) It’s Always Lovely When A Minister With A Punable Surname Quits
Another week, another ministerial resignation.
But whereas Phillip Lee was a non-Brexit minister resigning over Brexit, the departure of Greg Hands from the Department of International Trade has nothing to do with the UK leaving the EU.
Hands is stepping down in order to vote against the Government on expanding Heathrow. The Chelsea & Fulham MP pledged to his constituents at the 2017 election to vote against a third runway at the airport.
With Hands quitting to honour his election vow, all eyes turn to Boris Johnson, who has also vowed to oppose the runway.
It seems that the Foreign Secretary is being given a free pass by Downing Street, as he’ll be in Luxembourg when the vote takes place.
I’m sure Theresa May will be calling in that favour very soon.
Don’t Get Angry, Get Blogging…
At HuffPost we love a good blog, and here are the finest Brexit-penned entries from this week. Have a read, and if any of them provoke an urge in you to speak your brain, send a blog to firstname.lastname@example.org and you could find yourself in this very newsletter.
Catherine Barnard on how two years on, we still don’t know what Brexit means
Geraint Davies on how air pollution hits the poor hardest - and why Brexit will only make things worse
Dr Louise Irvine on why the ‘Brexit dividend’ for the NHS distracts from wider issues about the service’s future
Alan Grant on why a post-Brexit CANZUK agreement might be the deal our economy needs