Week ahead in Parliament

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Media captionMPs voted against Brexit - again.

It's another quiet looking phoney-war week, as many parliamentarians ignore the cancellation of their normal half term, and head off for a break regardless.

Meanwhile both Houses of Parliament chomp their way through an uninspiring agenda of mostly uncontroversial detailed legislating, plus occasional general debates, with the only spice likely to come from urgent questions or ministerial statements.

PM sticks to Brexit strategy amid Tory row

There are very few select committee hearings and no contested votes are expected in either House.

It will, at least, give the various parties and Brexit factions (some of which look increasingly like parties in their own right) a chance to digest Thursday's clutch of Brexit votes, and refine their calculations about the greater votes yet to come.

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Week ahead in Parliament

Brexit signs

Parliament's brief respite from Brexit will end this week - and while a major debate is scheduled for Thursday, it is still far from clear how the week's events will unfold.

The thing to look out for is the sudden announcement of a new Business Statement from the Leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, to rejig the parliamentary timetable, should circumstances change in some way.

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Week ahead in Parliament

Theresa May Image copyright © UK Parliament/ Mark Duffy

It looks like a quiet parliamentary week ahead - but as one wise head remarked to me, "interesting things happen in quiet weeks".

Despite all the talk of vast volumes of Brexit business to be done, and the postponement of the Commons half term, this is one of the least Brexity parliamentary weeks for ages, with MPs holding a general debate on sport on Monday (which looks a bit like a way of allowing the less-sporty to have a long weekend) then there's the routine-but-important vote on the funding settlements for police and councils in England.

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Week ahead in Parliament

John Bercow Image copyright UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

It's raining amendments in Westminster, as rival groups of MPs road-test different approaches to various Brexit issues, in the run-up to Tuesday's big debate.

As I write, 14 amendments adorn the order paper, and it is highly likely that more will be spawned as the various factions plot over the weekend.

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Week ahead in Parliament

Parliament Image copyright © UK Parliament/ Mark Duffy

Judging by the agenda for Westminster, next week will be the calm between the storms - a kind of phoney war interlude before the debate due on 29 January, when MPs debate future Brexit strategy, and almost anything could happen.

Theresa May is due to make another Brexit statement on Monday - but as I write there seems little indication that anything will change in her approach, so it's expected to be another Groundhog Day Brexit statement, with the same questions receiving the same answers.

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Week ahead in Parliament

Anti-Brexit supporters outside Parliament Image copyright Reuters

This isn't 2019, it's 2018 (continued)....by which I mean that Parliament has returned to exactly the same oppressive sense of impending national crisis as pervaded Westminster before Christmas.

The government still seems to be heading for defeat on its Brexit deal, with incalculable consequences for the country.

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Bercow's unprecedented ruling could change the course of Brexit

John Bercow Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption John Bercow has been the Speaker for almost a decade

Boom! After a humdrum, almost completely unrevealing Prime Minister's Questions, the Commons erupted over Speaker John Bercow's decision to allow an attempt to change the rules for the resumed "meaningful vote" debate.

This is no mere technicality. The amendment proposed by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve would require the government to come back within three days, rather than 21, to debate the implications of not having a Brexit deal - if the prime minister's deal is indeed voted down next Tuesday.

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Week ahead in Parliament

Taxi at Westminster Image copyright PA

It's back to Brexit, after a seasonal break, where, I suspect, for many parliamentarians the plotting resumed at some point on Boxing Day.

This week should see the results of all the holiday intriguing - as I write it does not look as if there has been any softening of Conservative or DUP opposition to the PM's Brexit deal.

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Week ahead in Parliament

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Media captionTheresa May announces Tuesday's planned Brexit deal will not go ahead: "I've listened very carefully"

Will the aftershocks of a tumultuous Westminster week reverberate through what looks like quite a humdrum end of term agenda in Parliament?

One persistent rumour is that angry Tory Brexiteers may strike back at the government by failing to turn up to a vote at some point in the week - they could, for example, go on strike during the vote on the second reading of the Mental Capacity Bill, on Tuesday, where the bill would be lost if Labour's fatal amendment is passed.

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More than one way to sack a government

Prime Minister Theresa May Image copyright HOC
Image caption Could the prime minister lose her job - but the Conservative party remain the party of government?

It's the Opposition's big gun - the way to demonstrate that a government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, and with it, the right to govern.

A successful "no confidence" motion is a government-killer….and this was the means by which James Callaghan's minority Labour government was ushered from power in 1979, when it lost the support of the smaller parties (although it is less often remembered that it took several attempts, before it worked).

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