Game playing in Westminster infuriates viewers

Sir Christopher Chope Image copyright HOC
Image caption Sir Christopher Chope's objection to the progress of the bill has caused a storm

I wonder if the problem is that some MPs, indeed some in positions of power, have simply not cottoned onto the fact that many more people now watch their debates?

Once upon a time the joke was that in the Commons Chamber, no-one can hear you scream.

Now people watch on TV and online in their tens, sometimes hundreds, of thousands. And they don't just watch, they comment and they question.

And very frequently they are left utterly bemused by the way events unfold there.

Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope's objection, last Friday, which stopped Wera Hobhouse's upskirting bill, was the latest example of this phenomenon. But it is not the only piece of procedural shenanigans in play at the moment - there are at least three other examples, of varying significance, visible on the order paper.

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Week ahead in Parliament

Dominic Grieve and John Redwood Image copyright House of Commons
Image caption Conservative MP Dominic Grieve (left) is one of the leading rebels

It's back to Brexit again in both Houses of Parliament, after the issue of a "meaningful vote" unexpectedly detonated.

Soft Brexit/Remainer Tory MPs, led by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve, thought they had a deal with the prime minister on the issue. They had drawn back from rebelling on Tuesday on the promise of a compromise - but then discovered that the government was not offering them what they thought had been conceded.

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The government blinks first

Robert Buckland Image copyright Hoc
Image caption Intervening to make an offer: it looks as though the government concessions appealed to the rebels

Maybe it was the moment when the former education secretary, Justine Greening, intervened on her former ministerial colleague, Dominic Grieve, that the government realised the game was up.

She was so supportive towards the former attorney general, as he argued for Parliament to have a "meaningful vote" on the terms of the Brexit deal, that it seemed probable she would join the Euro-rebels in voting for it….

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EU bill: what are the consequences of today's votes?

EU flag outside Parliament Image copyright PA

All aboard for another spin of the Brexit hamster wheel!

As MPs embark on the first of what promises to be a long series of votes on Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, here are a few thoughts on the events ahead:

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Week ahead in Parliament

Anti-Brexit protesters outside Parliament Image copyright Reuters

After a tumultuous Westminster week laid bare the government's Brexit divisions, next week's important votes on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill cold rub salt into raw wounds.

The government has now published its response to the 15 amendments on which it lost votes in the Lords - and they vary from flat rejection (on the European Economic Area and the Customs Union) to watering-down (on the meaningful vote) to embracing with a bit of tweaking (the Northern Ireland amendment and the Dubs amendment on child refugees) to outright acceptance (on the continuing relationship with the EU, post-Brexit).

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Brexit bill: shootout or showdown?

Clint Eastwood stares down his adversaries during a showdown in a still from the film, A Fistful of Dollars Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Showdown in the Commons next week...but it's unlikely to involve ponchos

It's going to be a 12-hour Technicolor epic. The political stakes will be huge. And for most observers outside (and many inside) the Commons Chamber, it may be well-nigh incomprehensible.

The long-awaited Commons consideration of Lords Amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is already being billed as a kind of Brexit High Noon, with Brexiteers and Remainers picking their way toward each other through the parliamentary tumbleweed, cigars clenched in their jaws, ponchos flapping, for a confrontation directed by Sergio Leone or Sam Peckinpah.

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Could Dominic Cummings really be forced to appear before committee?

Dominic Cummings
Image caption Dominic Cummings was grilled by the Treasury committee in 2016

Appropriately enough for the committee which oversees the gambling industry, they're rolling the dice.

In a terse 18-paragraph report the Commons Digital, Culture Media and Sport Committee has announced it intends to put a motion before the Commons, summoning former Vote Leave head honcho Dominic Cummings to appear before their inquiry into "fake news," which has been pursuing allegations around misuse of data during the 2016 EU referendum.

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What's on in Parliament?

EU flag outside Parliament Image copyright PA
Image caption The calm before the storm over the EU (Withdrawal) Bill?

Is this the last calm week in Parliament before the storm of Brexit legislation is unleashed on MPs?

On the face of it, this will be a week of relatively light legislating, with the major points of interest coming from statements and urgent questions, or high-profile committee hearings.

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What's on in Parliament?

Peers gather as the vote is announced

This week's Commons and Lords agendas are dotted with opportunities to consider amendments from the other lot - the process of Parliamentary ping-pong is now in full swing - but the likely subjects for the attention of honourable members and noble lords will by the Data Protection Bill and the Sanctions and Anti Money-Laundering Bill, and not the eagerly-awaited EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

That will not be seen until June at the earliest, and it is entirely possible that the wait might be longer than that - at the moment the government risks defeat on many of the 15 amendments passed by peers.

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The scale of what's happened in the Brexit bill

Government defeat Image copyright Hol
Image caption The 15th government defeat on the EU Withdrawal Bill came at third reading

It is worth taking a moment to ponder the scale of what has happened in the House of Lords over the last few weeks.

At times it has seemed a near rout.

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