The Government comfortably saw off Labour’s attempt to derail its Repeal Bill, with Jeremy Corbyn suffering the added embarrassment of having seven of his own MPs defy him by supporting the legislation. Even Dennis Skinner, the stalwart socialist, was among those to help the Tories’ bill through. The Opposition may have failed to block the Repeal Bill over concerns about its use of “Henry VIII” powers, and it still has them in its sights, tabling several broad amendments to curb their use which it hopes will attract the support of Conservative Europhiles. They should attract sympathy from the likes of Dominic Grieve and John Penrose, as they have tabled similar amendments of their own – all of which will be considered for discussion by Speaker John Bercow. Labour isn’t just worrying about the Tudor-inspired powers, as it is seeking to amend the bill so that the terms of Britain’s transition would have to be signed off by Parliament too.
Brexit-sceptics are ready, I suggest online, to wage guerilla war on the bill, popping up over the next few stages of its journey into law to throw amendments at it in the hope of curbing its power. Ministers will aim to get the bill through with as few changes as possible, but the Tories’ lost majority means it will be a struggle to fend off every amendment, which may explain why they are keen to secure control of public bill committees – in a vote that MPs will hold tonight. Parliamentarians might be tempted to sympathise with David Cameron, Michael Deacon suggests, who reportedly tried to put Tories off from supporting Leave by asking them: “You don’t really want three years of Euro-w—, do you?”
In the meantime, Jean-Claude Juncker is preparing to give his keynote address on the state of the European Union tomorrow morning in Brussels. The Commission president’s entourage is on bullish form, judging by our report that his chief of staff Martin Selmayr has told EU members that any state that wants to be at the “core” of the project after Britain leaves will have join the euro – which alarmed Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. European Parliamentarians are being similarly bolshy, with Guy Verhofstadt urging Theresa May to address all 751 MEPs in an open session, rather than just the political group heads in a behind-closed door meeting. Philippe Lamberts, co-president of the parliament’s Greens, accused her of being “ out of her depth”, adding: “If she were to come to Brussels or Strasbourg, I think she’d risk further weakening the UK’s position.”
The Prime Minister might be keen to avoid addressing the entire chamber on camera so as to avoid giving MEPs a chance to pull a stunt on camera, like staging a dramatic walkout as she speaks. Migh their jibes be a sign of irritation that they have been denied this chance?
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