Theresa May is facing her biggest test yet at the head of her DUP-aided administration as Parliament prepares to vote today on her legislative programme laid out in the Queen’s Speech. Mrs May fended off Labour’s attempt to force a public sector pay cap onto the agenda, but now faces three more amendments from Stella Creasy, Chuka Umunna and Jeremy Corbyn. The Government has tried to pre-empt the Creasy amendment by announcing that it will fund abortions in England for women arriving from Northern Ireland, in the hope that it will either persude Tory MPs enough to ensure her amendment falls, or that she decides to withdraw it.
Chuka Umunna, the former Shadow Business Secretary, has tabled an amendment that would commit Britain to fully remaining in the customs union and single market- both entities that the Tories pledged to leave in their manifesto. Labour has been more ambiguous about this. Opposition MPs are being whipped to abstain on this amendment, and they used to rebel under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership regularly before the election. Now they think he is a winner, will they do so in the same numbers? Tory Europhiles have been tempted by Mr Umunna’s amendment, although Nicky Morgan – who only last night was musing on the BBC about when Mrs May should go – suggested she wouldn’t back it. Heidi Allen spoke for a good few Tory MPs by venting her anger about the DUP deal, but made clear she would back the DUP-endorsed Queen’s Speech. Discipline in the Tory ranks is holding up, even if MPs are feeling free to sound off. (Incidentally, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has set out in today’s paper why the deal will strengthen all of Britain).
The amendment Team Corbyn would like MPs to back is one he and his fellow shadow cabinet members have put forward, which would introduce elements of the Labour manifesto and add that Britain should try to keep the “exact same benefits” of the European Union’s single market and customs union after leaving. Given that free movement – something Labour has acknowledged will end in its manifesto – is meant to be one of the “benefits” of being in the single market, that may not be practical. “For Britain to retain all the exact same benefits of EU membership that it currently enjoys would demand no change,” writes former Labour MP Tom Harris. “If that is what Labour’s view is, can they please just tell us now, so we can have a proper debate about it?”
Four votes will take place soon, on the three amendments and then on the main Queen’s Speech. We’ll have the results once they emerge on our liveblog.
Source: The Telegraph