Events This Week
This week sees MP’s return dutifully to the voting halls of Parliament to once again decide whether the Prime Minister’s withdrawal deal can be stomached.
But given the lack of changes to the backstop – a measure designed to allow a temporary arrangement for the Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland border – it is almost certain the deal will be resoundingly rejected.
Tuesday’s withdrawal agreement vote had already been delayed, leaving just two and a half weeks between the vote and the date the UK are meant to leave the European Union, March 29th.
By holding the vote so late in the process, the Prime Minister will have practically no time to arrange an alternative agreement with Brussels, leaving Theresa May with two options; extending article 50, or a no deal Brexit.
If the deal is rejected, Parliament will on Wednesday vote on whether to prevent a no deal scenario, a bill that is far more likely to attract cross-party support, and pass.
Should this occur, the only real option is to extend article 50, giving the government the opportunity to return to Brussels and beg for the kind of agreement that will pass through Parliament.
Such a vote is scheduled for Thursday. MP’s will vote on whether to extend article 50, again an outcome likely to attract cross-party support, with Labour MP’s, the IG and many Conservatives all likely to favour an extension.
So if you are hoping for this week to be one of the last on the topic of Brexit, you are likely to be severely disappointed.
Although Parliament is likely to vote again on Wednesday and Thursday in the event of the withdrawal agreement being rejected, the government may attempt to take a different course, forcing Parliament to undertake a series of smaller votes to try and gain a Brexit consensus.
This would largely mirror the non-binding votes that took place last month, which aimed to discover what changes would make the withdrawal agreement palatable to the commons, perhaps paving the way for a slightly adjusted deal that gains enough Conservative and IG votes to pass, should a meaningful vote be held.
This would present changes that the Prime Minister could make, leaving a last minute scramble to get consensus from the government, parliament and from Brussels and could allow the UK to still leave on the 29th March.
Although the likelihood of the UK-EU divorce being finalised by the 29th is looking increasingly unlikely, it is still possible, and with the desperation of both sides to avoid no deal, this scramble for agreement could feasibly happen.
It isn’t all about the UK and the EU though as this week sees the Nigerian people head to the polls to elect governors and state assembly members.
This comes after significant controversy surrounding the presidential election, with the violence in the aftermath causing some to call for the postponement of these elections.
Whilst over in America, their national emergency rages on. Despite the lack of an emergency, the president has kept the nation in a state of emergency over border security, although the House of Representatives is set to overturn this.
Given the Democrats control of the House, it is expected that the national emergency will promptly be ended, whilst there is growing anticipation for the Special Counsel report.
Rumours in Washington suggest the report is imminent, which coincide with ongoing hearings into the president’s wrongdoings, both in relation to financial fraud and electoral rule breaches.