Rory Broomfield sets out the Brexit battle lines in next week’s Parliamentary business for what promises to be an important week for determining our post-EU future.
Easter is nearly upon us but the Brexit battle lines in Westminster are being drawn for several policy showdowns that will shape the political landscape for years to come.
With questions over the impact of Brexit still being discussed in Parliament, issues such as immigration, EU contributions and extradition to the EU are all on the cards after the Easter break.
The coming week will undoubtedly be characterised by a multitude of chief executives, trade associations and MPs all scrabbling to have their say.
As an example, take the oral evidence currently being gathered by the culture, media and sport select committee. On top of the Members of Parliament present, there are due to be six witnesses from the fashion, textiles, architecture, design and advertising worlds who will all look to represent their respective industries and members. Don’t expect everything to be rose-tinted but there will be a lot of people competing for the microphone in this one.
Another session that will be interesting is the home affairs select committee session on Tuesday, where Andrew Baxter (Managing Director, Europa Worldwide Group), Simon Edwards (Operations Director, Manpower) and Simon Kelly (Director of Logistics, Next plc) are due to give evidence on immigration. Given that both Andrew Baxter and Lord Wolfson, boss of Next plc, have indicated their support for Brexit, it looks like there could be a good amount of positivity coming out of this committee.
There are also sessions in Westminster Hall that will hopefully shine a light into the problems faced by the EU and the opportunities available following our departure. These include two debates that have caught my attention: on Wednesday when the UK’s total net financial contributions to the EEC, EC, EU since 1973 will be debated, courtesy of Philip Hollobone, and on Thursday when a debate regarding the European Arrest Warrant has been initiated by David T.C. Davies MP. Both of these will be important in illustrating the immense cost of the EU both to our finances and our legal freedom.
Wednesday will be a busy day for those concerned with taxpayer spending as, further to the Westminster Hall debate on EU contributions, there will be evidence taken in the Welsh Affairs select committee concerning agriculture in Wales post-Brexit. This, combined with other select committee sessions on the benefits cap and the UK’s international development aid, promise a wide-ranging discussion on how taxpayers’ money is being spent.
However, Brexit battle lines continue to be drawn in the Northern Ireland affairs and Scottish affairs select committees as evidence is gathered concerning the future of the land border with the Republic of Ireland and “Scotland’s place in Europe”.
Of course, some have obviously not learnt that the EU is not Europe, however, it seems that Brexit will dominate regardless of this, especially when there will be the publication of the twelfth report of the public administration and constitutional affairs committee regarding lessons learned from the EU referendum.
Given that around this time last year the Government spent over nine million pounds of taxpayers’ money on a pro-EU leaflet that was sent to every household in the UK, it will be especially interesting to see what the committee that is chaired by Bernard Jenkin reports back.
There will, of course, also be interesting non-Brexit related debates. Chris Grayling will be appearing in front of the Transport Select Committee on Thursday, while fellow Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, will appear in front of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee. Given the issues surrounding train strike action, Volkswagen emissions and the furore over the changes to business rates, both Secretary of States should expect a grilling.
Next week promises to be an interesting and feisty week one in Westminster. Who will win the battles? We’ll just have to wait and see.