Westminster diary w/b 17th December

Monday

My early morning meeting got cancelled at the last minute so a quick reshuffle of the diary sees me grab the next flight to London. The first notable event in the chamber is another statement from the Prime Minister regarding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. These increasingly regular statements remind me of the weather updates you see on the TV when the weather is particularly bad and everybody needs reassured but at the same time are being told to baton down the hatches. The most intriguing part of the statement was when in three sentences the Prime Minister changed position three times over the Irish border. “The backstop will not need to be triggered” was followed by “If the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered” which in the next line became, the EU would negotiate “a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop”. It is that sort of muddled thinking that has got us in to the mess we are in now. Thankfully the select committee on transport was a more focused event. We are looking at ‘Active Travel’. It was interesting to hear how towns and cities are working towards increasing access for cyclists and pedestrians. There are more cars on the road now than ever before but we are using them less. The SNP Scottish Government recently announced an investment of £80 million annually in cycling and walking to encourage a greater shift towards active travel. This fits in nicely with work being undertaken in Inverclyde by Sustrans Scotland and Community Tracks. I should have been attending a reception in the Irish Parliament but events once again caused a change to planned business.

Tuesday

Jeremy Corbyn has lodged a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister. It’s a complete waste of time as even if he were to miraculously win it, it is not a binding vote. To rectify the situation the SNP, Greens , Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru get together and lodge an amendment to completely replace the motion with a vote of no confidence in the government. That is compliant with the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 section 2 and therefore the outcome of that would be binding. If the government lost that vote they would have 14 days to form a government that had the confidence of parliament and if not we would have a General Election. With the SNP running high in the polls it is an outcome I would welcome. Meanwhile the day job involves the Select Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs taking evidence on strategic leadership in the civil service. The SNP secured a debate on Brexit under the standing order 24 (SO24). The debate was oversubscribed and easily filled the time allocated to it. I attended a drop in event to promote the campaign for votes at 16.

Wednesday

The Labour motion was not taken and therefore our amendment falls. Overnight the SNP, Greens, Lib Dem’s and Plaid Cymru launched our own motion of no confidence in the UK Government. It remains to be seen if they are prepared to pick up the gauntlet. Prime Minister’s Questions started with each side wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and quickly descended into the usual exchange of abuse. The irony seems to be completely lost in that place. The rancour continued into a series of points of order at the end of PMQs after Jeremy Corbyn was accused of calling the Prime Minister a “stupid woman”. The speaker came under extreme pressure from Conservative and Unionist MPs. It is just the latest in a series of examples of the abuse that flows back and forward in the chamber, including two aimed at SNP members in the last week. I stayed for the Home office statement on immigration post Brexit. A sorry state of affairs that will leave Scotland worse off as was pointed out by my SNP colleague Stuart C McDonald MP when he said “these policies will make the UK poorer economically, socially and in terms of opportunity. They do not signify a ‘global Britain’ – but an inward-looking Tory government and a Prime Minister obsessed with net migration targets.” An SO24 request from Keir Stammer MP was delayed by thirty two minutes of additional points of orders. Including points of order saying why are wasting time with points of order. Westminster has finally descended into bedlam. The request was granted and the debate on leaving the E.U. with no deal took place. A quick dash to the airport and I managed to catch the 19:30 flight home.

Thursday

My early return from Westminster allowed me to meet with Home-Start Inverclyde to discuss how they help to provide children with have a happy and secure childhood with the aim to help them achieve their full potential. In the afternoon I visited the Amnesty International Photographic exhibition in the Beacon Arts Centre.

Friday

Constituency cases took up most of the day and after work I had a catch up with my SNP Councillor colleagues.

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