I missed the water flooding into the Commons last Thursday, causing the session to be closed, but it seemed to sum up a lot right now – unexpected and chaotic. This week was supposed to be the Easter recess, when I normally catch up on visits and meetings in Sheffield, but the Brexit crisis means it’s been cancelled. You can catch up with my latest Brexit update here.
As I travel down to Westminster it isn’t entirely clear what will happen. Today we’re expecting the EU (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill, moved by Oliver Letwin and Yvette Cooper, which gives Parliament the legal powers to shape an Article 50 extension, back from the House of Lords, but nothing is clear beyond that.
Although we’ve been open to seeking a new way forward, the Prime Minister’s been offering no compromises in the talks she opened with Labour on Thursday. But I’ll be in Parliament all week, as we need to deal with the outcome of the negotiations and frame the Prime Minister’s request for an extension to Article 50 to the European Council summit on Wednesday.
If the ‘Letwin/Cooper’ Bill becomes law on Monday, the Government will need our approval on Tuesday for to seek an Article 50 extension, and then we may need to confirm the extension on Thursday after Wednesday’s EU Council. We might also be considering further ‘indicative votes’ on options to build consensus, although that’s now up to the Government after last week’s votes.
As officially planned, the Parliamentary agenda is quite light; there are a few Statutory Instruments and some general debates, which are discussions without legislation or a motion to consider, so it’s just holding space for emerging Brexit business. I’ve various meetings on Brexit, including one with diplomats from the EU27.
On Thursday I’m bringing down representatives from Sheffield Citizens Advice to meet with the Department of Work and Pensions to discuss the difficulties that some people with disabilities face with digital applications for Universal Credit and the lack of non-digital routes; something I raised with Ministers recently.
I’m expecting to be back in Sheffield on Friday, which is currently the day the UK is now due to leave the EU, although that’s not certain at this stage. But I will be back in Sheffield on Saturday morning, when I will be holding one of my regular ‘advice surgeries’ (information here) and knocking on doors meeting constituents, before heading down to Bramall Lane hoping that we’ll be staying on course for promotion.